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Iowa Football Position Grades: Nebraska

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Hawkeyes with miraculous comeback to beat the Huskers

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

In what could only be described as an incredible comeback, our Iowa Hawkeyes beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the seventh straight time. It was a frustrating battle to be sure. The Hawkeyes once again allowed a team to march down the field for an early touchdown. Iowa countered with a touchdown pass from Alex Padilla to Sam LaPorta that wasn’t a touchdown. LaPorta caught the ball, came down with said ball. Landed on his back (still had the ball). And finally, a red-clad defender knocked the ball out of his arms. No score. Yeah, right. After many questionable calls, Nebraska’s young quarterback looking pretty good, and Iowa struggling to do anything, LeVar Woods’ special teams unit went and won the game. Phil Parker’s guys stepped up, once again, and delivered the mail. On to the grades.

Offense

QB: D+/C-

Both Alex Padilla and Spencer Petras played a half. Padilla started the game and was pulled at halftime. Petras finished the game. I like both of our QB’s. I think both of them bring leadership to the huddle. I like Padilla’s mobility and Petras’ arm. I did find myself thinking back to a quote that has been attributed to John Madden that said, “If you’ve got two quarterbacks, you have none.” I thought this in the fact that in my opinion neither quarterback has separated himself from the other. I would think that this spring there should be a true four person competition to win the starting job. Iowa has Deuce Hogan on the roster as well as Joey Labas and will bring in an excellent recruit in Carson May. I would also very much be open for a transfer to come in to take over. This position has held the Hawkeyes back this year. On the day Alex Padilla was 6 of 14 for 76 yards. Spencer Petras was 7 of 13 for 102 yards. Petras scored on an “Iowa Special” (QB sneak). I’m sure that Kirk and Brian will start Spencer Petras vs Michigan in the B1G Championship. I’m fine with whatever. I just want someone to play well. I do worry about Petras’ lack of mobility vs the Michigan pass rush.

RB: B+

Tyler Goodson likes running against the Cornhuskers. In 3 career games vs the somewhat-Blackshirts, Goodson has rushed 66 times for 383 yards (5.8) and one score. Here Goodson runs between the tackles to pick up a huge gain with the score tied.

Goodson did fumble once; he ran into Tyler Linderbaum so it is excusable as I would let go of the football if Lindy even looked at me. Monte Pottebaum ran like the dang wind, ok, he rumbled like a... Oh, never mind. Everyone’s favorite fullback averaged a cool 14.9 yards on his two carries. Gavin Williams had just ten yards on six carries.

WR: C

Iowa’s wide receivers had a quiet day, although a few of the catches came at pivotal times for the Hawks. Charlie Jones led Iowa’s wideouts with three catches for 31 yards. One of the offensive plays of the day was this third down pass from Petras to Jones. It was a rope and it was a tremendous catch by Jones.

Nico Ragaini, Keagan Johnson, and Arland Bruce IV all hauled in one catch each.

TE: B+

Welcome back, Iowa’s tight ends! We have missed you. Iowa targeted Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey eight times on the day. LaPorta finished with three catches for 61 yards. Lachey caught one ball for 27 yards. LaPorta’s catch that wasn’t a catch was one of the most frustrating parts of this game.

This precedent did seem like it came into play later as Nebraska had an incredible catch on the sideline that appeared to be complete. I commented that if our catch wasn’t a catch, that wasn’t a catch. The football gods agreed. The whole complete a catch, make 387 football moves, write a note to your grandma, and get on the bus back to the airport thing needs to end.

OL: B

Iowa’s offensive line is hitting its stride. It continues to be a work in progress, but I feel like our identity is running between the tackles. Mason Richman returned and some of the young, inexperienced Hawks are becoming battle-tested. Tyler Linderbaum continues to bully people. I loved the playe where the Baumer pancaked a Husker and all of Nebbyland wanted a whistle. Enjoy Hawk fans. #LinderbaumForHeisman

Iowa’s offensive line gave up two sacks, none in the second half, and allowed Iowa’s backs to rush for 186 yards on the day (5.0).

Defense

DL: B+

Iowa’s defensive line accounted for twenty one of Iowa’s 67 tackles on the day. Lukas Van Ness had six tackles and a sack. This Van Ness safety was the defensive play of the day.

Zach VanValkenburg had five tackles and a sack. Logan Lee collected a fumble for the Hawks. The majority of Nebraska’s rushing attack came from quarterback Logan Smothers. The Hawks’ defensive line will need to step up in the B1G Championship against Michigan’s O-line and Hassan Haskins. The Buckeyes had no answer for that combo.

LB: B+

To the surprise of no one Jack Campbell and Seth Benson were Iowa’s top two tacklers. Campbell collected 16 tackles on the day, 1 TFL, and 1 QBH. Benson had 10 tackles and 1 TFL. Jestin Jacobs had two tackles. This group will also be tasked with playing physical football against the Wolverines next week.

DB: B

Jack Koerner is always around the football. He had seven tackles, 6 of them solos. The majority of his tackles are always out in space. If he misses, it’s a long gain. Kaevon Merriweather had 4 tackles, Dane Belton collected 4, and Jermari Harris had two tackles and sealed the deal with the late interception.

Riley Moss had one tackle, 1 pass breakup, and 1 QBH. It would help to get Matt Hankins (doubtful?) and Terry Roberts back for Michigan.

(Very) Special Teams: A+

Iowa does not play this Saturday in the B1G Championship if it’s not for the Hawkeyes’ special teams. The blocked punt by Henry Marchese

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

and over-the-shoulder catch and score by Kyler Fisher changed the flow of this game.

Caleb Shudak banged field goals from 51, 48, 36, and 44. He also converted both of his extra points. Tory Taylor punted twice for an average of 44.0 yards. LeVar Woods deserves a substantial amount of credit for Iowa’s ten regular-season wins.

Up Next: We’re Going to the ‘Ship!

All of Hawkville was rooting for the boat-rowers from up north. It was disgusting, but our rodent friends did not let us down. Most of us probably also watched Michigan run over Ohio State before the Gopher/Badger game. The Khaki Pants Kids are a good, tough football team with playmakers all over the field. Some have said and Tweeted that they would rather not get to a big game as they are afraid of getting embarrassed. Nonsense. Any competitor wants to play the best on the biggest stage. All you ask for is a chance.

This is us. Go Hawks!

It’s great to be a Hawkeye! As always, Go Hawks!