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Iowa Football Position Grades: Illinois

After a horrendous start... Hawks soar!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Iowa at Illinois
A giant step for Big Spence
Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Iowa started like it didn’t get off the bus. After about one quarter, Big Momentum was picking up steam in favor of the Hawks. 35 unanswered points made the ugly start on both sides of the ball a very distant memory. Excellent grades across the board for the Hawks after what looked like an epic fail of a start.


QB: A-

I was leading the parade for seeing what we had behind Spencer Petras. Petras went from deer-in-headlights to a DUDE in a matter of minutes. I honestly have never seen such an in-game turnaround. Petras finished 18/28 for 220 yards with 3 TD’s and 0 INT’s. Spectacular.

RB: A-

Iowa’s running backs had a solid day against an Illini defense that came out pretty fired up. Tyler Goodson totaled 92 yards (4.8) and Mekhi Sargent weighed in with 54 (5.4).

Mekhi Sargent is running HARD this year


Iowa wideouts Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Tyrone Tracy ran for 65 yards and a touchdown. It included some similar play calls that we saw in the Holiday Bowl against USC about a year ago. Tight end U had another very good day. Shaun Beyer and Sam LaPorta combined for 6 catches for 94 yards and 2 TD’s. Brandon Smith was more of a factor than in past games, catching 5 balls for 58 yards.

Sam LaPorta’s first TD of many for TEU

OL: A-

Iowa’s offensive line allowed two Petras sacks. The front five paved the way for 220 yards through the air and 204 yards on the ground.


DL: A-

Iowa’s defensive line accounted for 3.5 TFL’s and 1 sack. Chauncey Golston and Daviyon Nixon continue to stand out.

LB: A-

Iowa’s linebackers Nick Niemann, Jack Campbell, and Seth Benson did a nice job of containing Illinois after the initial couple of drives. Iowa allowed 149 yards rushing on the day. I had this group at a B+. One of my good friends gave me grief about last week’s LB grade. Soooo, yeah. Bump.

DB/Cash: A-

Iowa’s defensive backs were credited with 6 pass breakups on the day. Illinois brought in the relief pitcher after Brandon Peters was having a hard time completing anything.

Dane Belton is not-so-quietly putting together a nice year

Special Teams: A

Iowa continued to be very strong on special teams. Tory Taylor averaged 42 yards on his punts and Keith Duncan knocked two field goals through from 40 and 27 yards. Is it just me or does Keith Duncan seem like the happiest, nicest dang dude you’ve ever come across? He seems like someone who would knit sweaters for rabbits at a local animal shelter.

Keith Duncan getting back in his groove