The end result, a 27-14 loss to an excellent Michigan team, is not what we were looking for. Unfortunately it feels like we are becoming the Minnesota Gophers of the last ten years where they kept track of their record with wins, losses, and moral victories. The crowd, atmosphere, stripes, and Wave all provided an excellent environment for a fall Saturday. Iowa’s was commendable, the special teams were excellent as always, and the offense showed a pulse at times. Spencer Petras statistically had a good day (for him), but a few errant throws led to missed opportunities, and the referees pretty much decided to make rules up on the fly just for *&$^% and giggles. Here’s my take on the game; Michigan is good. Really good. My grades may reflect that fact.
I feel like I’ve been throwing darts for Spencer Petras’ grades this year. I’ve tried to not be negative. Petras’ line was 21-31 for 246 yards, no interceptions, and one touchdown. That’s pretty solid. I read where someone stated that his stats came in garbage time. I didn’t really get that vibe; I’m a Vikings fan so I do understand that Kirk Cousins has made a career off of some pretty great stats when they didn’t matter. Where Petras continues to kill us is with his overthrown balls or making his receivers dive to catch a ball. Also, Petras was sacked four times. Some of that is on our offensive line. Many times, however, a more-mobile quarterback (or even one who doesn’t have cement cleats) could simply step up in the pocket to avoid a pass rush. But... nope. He might be one of the easiest quarterbacks to sack that I’ve ever seen. Once he gets to his drop he’s not moving an inch. Defensive linemen can pin their ears back and just go to a spot; Big Spence will be waiting with open arms. He made some excellent throws on the day. He did improve his QBR. He is now ahead of two quarterbacks in the FBS ranks. He sits at 127/129. Thank goodness Alex Padilla hasn’t played because he could be 128 or 129!
Michigan’s defense is stout. Leshon Williams 8/34 (4.2) and Kaleb Johnson 12/32 (2.7) had a pretty tough go of it. Johnson had a nice run negated by a terrible clipping call. Johnson is going to be fun watching in the future. Fullback Monte Pottebaum had a nice catch and run for 17 yards.
After one wide receiver catch last week, the Hawks put up nine. Nico Ragaini has helped this unit since his return. Ragaini caught four passes for 55 yards. Brody Brecht is slowly getting up to speed and that has also helped. He caught two balls for 38 yards.
Tight end U was a justifiable statement on Saturday. Luke Lachey was tremendous with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Here was a nice throw and catch.
Sam LaPorta caught five balls for 24 yards.
Despite the low grade, I did think there was some improvement from this group. Yes, the Hawks averaged 1.5 yards on the ground. Yes, we allowed four sacks. I did think that Petras had enough time for most of his throws, and of those sacks, I’d say three of them could have been avoided with even the slightest amount of mobility. And, like I said, that was a pretty salty Wolverine defense. This unit was penalized by two horrendous calls by the referees. Here was one of the abominations:
On the day Michigan averaged 4.1 yards per rush. Blake Corum is good at footballing. He is a strong dude that can jump cut on a dime. It was a quiet day from a sack/QBH standpoint. Deontae Craig had Iowa’s lone sack and caused a forced fumble. Noah Shannon led this group with five tackles. A total team effort on a 4th and 1 stop was one of the highlights of the day.
Seth Benson (14 tackles), Jack Campbell (11), and Jay Higgins (7) all had solid day’s statistically for Phil Parker’s guys. Benson and Campbell combined for 1.5 TFL. Blake Corum did something that no one else has done, he made Campbell look silly on his touchdown run. It was a sweet run and you know that Jack will replay that in his mind for the next 50 years. He may take it out on Illinois’ excellent running back, Chase Brown, next week. Michigan’s runners showed excellent strength, often moving the piles for extra yardage.
Cooper DeJean did not intercept any passes. I repeat, Cooper DeJean did not intercept any passes. Coop still collected seven tackles and continues to be a force on special teams. Michigan’s run game is phenomenal; this sets up Michigan’s passing offense to get some fairly easy completions. J. J. McCarthy looked good, but he still only threw for 155 yards. In order for Iowa to win, this unit needs to score a defensive touchdown. How crazy is that?!? The back end of our defense did not make those plays Saturday.
Special Teams: A-
What you see is what you get from this unit. This has to be one of the most consistent units in the country for any of the three phases of the game. Tory Taylor punted five times for an average of 48.2 yards. Drew Stevens converted both of his extra points. The return game was pretty quiet. The only good thing about Charlie Jones going to Purdue is that the Hawks were forced to get their young playmakers involved. Arland Bruce IV, Kaleb Johnson, and Cooper DeJean have all handled these duties. This will pay off down the road.
Iowa travels to play a good Illinois team in a night game. I’m on record saying that Bret Bielema would turn the Illini around. He’s an excellent B1G football coach. It will be a tough test for the Hawks. Win or lose, it’s great to be a Hawkeye.