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Iowa Football Position Grades: Penn State

It was an “ugly” B1G game that was beautiful

Penn State v Iowa
(No caption needed - although this is the caption)
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

After a slow start our Iowa Hawkeyes came out of their corner swinging. And Penn State couldn’t handle the flurry of punches. What was most impressive is that the Hawks came back from a 14 point deficit, much like Illinois last year, but to a far better team. Iowa is not typically a come-from-behind team. The Hawks tightened down the clamps on Penn State’s offense, and Brian Ferentz made a few good play calls that came at big moments. 6-0 sounds mighty fine. Let’s take a look at our position grades.



Spencer Petras started out slowly. He threw a pick early that was a little high with too much mustard on it. That play was reminiscent of some of his early interceptions last year. On the day Petras’ numbers were decent. He was 17-31 for 195 yards and 2 scoring strikes. Petras has won games as a starter. He also has shown that he can bounce back from adversity. He’s also a tough dude. Penn State went after his legs a few times and Big Spence shook it off. Here was a big play where Petras stood in the pocket and hit Nico Ragaini on a big 3rd and 9. Petras knew he was going to get smoked.

We all get frustrated with our offense, but you know Petras’ guys would choose to be in his foxhole. I have had a few people ask if I have considered evaluating the coordinators. Yes. I was very frustrated with Brian Ferentz on Saturday. Depending on field position, I seriously think we should look at 3rd and 3 as two down territory. QB sneak. QB sneak. Until it gets stopped, run an entire series of it. I’m only kind of kidding. Keep winning games, Spencer! I’m starting to feel that Brian Ferentz should place more trust in Petras. He can make plays. At this point, we won’t stop what we’re doing, but our offense could be more explosive with just a few tweaks here and there. Brian, you can message me...

RB: B+

Statistically this was a pretty good game for Tyler Goodson. Penn State’s defenders are as athletic as anyone in the country. Goodson netted 88 yards on 25 carries (3.5). He lost 15 yards on the day. That was a testament to how tough PSU’s defensive line and linebackers were. Goodson had some huge first down runs. We couldn’t get as much momentum rolling as Penn State’s defenders came up lame after each big TGood run. Hmmmm. Goodson also caught two balls for 16 yards. Ivory Kelly-Martin had 15 yards and everyone’s favorite fullback, Monte Pottebaum, had an 8 yard carry.

WR: A-

Iowa’ wide receivers caught 12 balls on the day. The biggest of course was the 44-yarder by Nico Ragaini. That Gus Johnson call is right up there with the Tevaun Smith TD (with the dab).

A little Indianapolis foreshadowing, perhaps? Charlie Jones got in the end zone and Keagan Johnson caught two balls for 45 yards including this beauty.

Arland Bruce IV also caught two balls. Johnson and Bruce flat out make plays. More of them, Mr. B. Ferentz!


It was a quiet day statistically for Iowa’s tight ends. Part of that is the game plan and part of that is a matchup and/or Penn State trying to take away a key position for the Hawks. Sam LaPorta had just one catch for 8 yards. The catch was spectacular, however. A defender was draped all over him and Petras put the ball in about an 8 inch window. Luke Lachey made a nice contribution hauling in two catches for 25 yards. Iowa’s tight ends will always block and make others look better. The low grade is simply from a statistical standpoint.

OL: B-

I thought the offensive line had a decent game. Spencer Petras was sacked three times. Also, Tyler Goodson was tackled behind the line of scrimmage a number of times. Those TFL’s essentially derail a drive. Goodson did have some nice runs that were created by the big fellas moving people. It feels more and more to me that our play calls are holding this offense back. Teams will game plan against Iowa to stop Tyler Goodson and the Hawks’ run game. Iowa’s zone blocking scheme should improve as Iowa’s young players gain more experience. I’d be interested in seeing Brian Ferentz pull out his Holiday Bowl (USC) offensive philosophy that basically said, “We are going to QB sneak until you stop us.” That’s Iowa football!



Iowa’ defensive line started out a little slowly but then picked up steam. Sean Clifford wasn’t pressured much early on, and he was able to gain some important yards when he broke from the pocket. Logan Lee led Iowa’s defensive linemen with 7 tackles. Deontae Craig collected Iowa’s lone sack on the day. Zach VanValkenburg and Joe Evans were each credited with a QB Hurry.


Iowa’s linebackers once again played a terrific game. One of the biggest plays of the game was the QBH by Jack Campbell on Sean Clifford. This legal hit knocked Clifford out of the game. Campbell had 9 tackles on the day. He’s all over the field. Seth Benson contributed 5 tackles and 2 QBH’s. Jestin Jacobs intercepted Sean Clifford’s first pass of the day.

DB/Cash: A

Iowa’s ballhawking defense continued to grab interceptions left and right. The Hawks’ back end collected three picks. Jack Koerner, Matt Hankins, and Riley Moss

all joined the turnover party. Koerner had seven tackles on the day. Dane Belton had five tackles and 2 QBH’s. Hankins was named the B1G defensive player of the week. Hankins’ fourth down stop was as good as you will see.

Special Teams: A+

Tory Taylor and Caleb Shudak were phenomenal against the Fighting Franklins. Shudak was 3 for 3 on field goals (34, 48, 36) and 2 for 2 on extra points. Taylor was hitting lob wedges into the greens like Arnold Palmer. Here was a special special teams play. That is winning football. More specifically, that is Iowa Football.

Next up: David Bell (and the Purdue Boilermakers)

There is not a player in the Big Ten that I respect more than Purdue’s David Bell. Bell has been playing a video game against a pretty salty Iowa defense the last two years. In two games Bell has 26 catches, 318 yards, and 4 TD’s against us. Hopefully Riley Moss is healthy this week. If not, Terry Roberts will get his number called. Either way, the Hawks and Phil Parker need to find a way to slow down Bell. As always, Go Hawks!