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Iowa Football Position Grades: Northwestern

Iowa gets a spark from Padilla, Bruce IV, and K. Johnson

Colorado State v Iowa
Alex Padilla made a difference in this game
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The start of the Iowa / Northwestern game was a punt fest. That definitely did not fall under the category of “Punting is Winning”. It was pretty ugly with Spencer Petras not at 100% throwing Dr. Tom Davis’ bounce passes. Let’s take a look at the grades. If you have been reading you are aware of just how subjective these grades are. I give quarterbacks high marks with wins. Not really a fair assessment, but hey, it’s my article. Also, the 17-12 final score became a war of attrition as Iowa football under Kirk Ferentz goes into its turtle position with a two score lead. It would be nice to air it out and score more points, but winning is what the object is. I’m ok with this.



It was a head-scratcher that Spencer Petras started the game once we watched him start out 2 for 4 for 4 yards and then were told he was pretty banged up. Alex Padilla came in and gave Iowa’s offense an immediate spark. On the day Padilla was 18 for 28 for 172 yards and no interceptions or fumbles. He had one strike that was dropped that would have been a significant gain. I saw someone post online (don’t remember who so can’t attribute) that stated Padilla said he is very comfortable with Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV because they have been running with the twos. These guys are the present and future of Iowa football. Who knows how healthy Spencer Petras will be next week, but Padilla has more than earned the right to start or share snaps with Spencer.

RB: A-

Tyler Goodson we have missed you. Not that TGood has been playing poorly, it’s just that he hasn’t had much running room lately. Goodson is a patient runner; sometimes a little too patient, especially with our offensive line struggling of late. On the day Tyler Goodson rushed 21 times for 141 yards (6.7 yards).

Gavin Williams was a nice change-of-pace back carrying the ball ten times for 41 yards (4.1). Williams was put into a big situation and the stage was none too big. He showed good ball security. A necessity. On Arland Bruce’s TD, Monte Pottebaum had one of the nicest blocks you will ever see from a fullback. (see below) Fear the Mullet.

Fullbacks are required to have mullets

WR: B+

True freshmen Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV are playmakers. Flat. Out. Dudes. Johnson caught five balls for 68 yards and Bruce caught three for 30. Here is the nice Padilla to Johnson catch that got the Hawks’ offense jumpstarted.

Bruce IV made the play of the day on a second-effort touchdown run.


Sam LaPorta was the sole Iowa tight end to catch a pass on the day. LaPorta caught 3 balls for 15 yards.


After two clunkers in a row for Iowa’s offensive line, the front five showed up for this game. Northwestern’s defense is not Wisconsin’s, but we will take what we can get. It was a move in the right direction. The Hawkeyes netted 185 yards on the ground (4.9 yards). We can win football games running the ball like that. Iowa’s quarterbacks were sacked two times along with four quarterback hurries. A big improvement from the Purdue and Wisconsin games.


DL: A-

After two very quiet games Iowa’s defensive line made its presence known against the Wildcats. The Hawkeyes’ defensive line was credited with 3 sacks (Noah Shannon, Joe Evans, Lukas Van Ness). The d-line was also credited with 7 quarterback hurries. This group pressured the Northwestern’s QB Andrew Marty and that was a big reason for Iowa’s 3 interceptions. Northwestern ran 31 times for an average of 3 yards a carry.

LB: B-

Seth Benson led Iowa’s linebackers with 8 tackles on the day, including one tackle for a loss. Jack Campbell collected 7 tackles and also had a pass breakup. Jestin Jacobs had a quiet day as Dane Belton (cash) played a great deal.

DB/Cash: A

Iowa’s back 4/5 had an excellent day. Jack Koerner continues to tackle everyone (8 tackles), Matt Hankins had 5 and a pass breakup, and Chicago-native Jermari Harris showed again he can play with 5 tackles and his first career interception. Dane Belton was a monster, collecting two interceptions, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry.

The Hawkeye secondary will become even better when Riley Moss and Terry Roberts return to the lineup. In the meantime, Iowa is developing excellent depth.

Special Teams: C+

Caleb Shudak was 2 for 2 on his extra points and 1 for 1 on a field goal attempt (25 yards). Iowa’s special teams unit had a rare miscue on the year, allowing Northwestern to block one of Tory Taylor’s punts. Typically if you get a punt blocked, you lose the game. Thankfully Iowa’s defense bailed us out. Taylor’s average on the day was 40.9 yards. Subpar for him. The return game was pretty quiet, although it was nice to have Charlie Jones back there every time. He has become a big-time transfer for the Hawkeyes.

Next Up: The Boat Rowers

Minnesota has been up and down. They have lost their top 3 running backs on the year, but they can still run the ball behind a nice, experienced offensive line. Also, Tanner Morgan is battle-tested. Hopefully the Hawks come back to Kinnick a little salty after losing our last home game. Pajamas Fleck will be hyped, sprinting, rowing, and saying “Elite” all week as he wants to get back at Kirk regarding last year’s “Figured we’d take Floyd with us and leave the timeouts here.” Classic. Oink, oink, oink, Gophers. As always, Go Hawks!