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Iowa Football Position Grades: Northwestern

Progress, but Northwestern is really, really, really bad

Northwestern v Iowa
Pass catcher. Baseball player. Hawkeye.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

For a day all things were right with Hawkeye football. It was a beautiful 66 degree sunny day at Kinnick Stadium. Our Hawks put 33, 33?!?!?, points on the board, and the good guys beat the Fighting Pat Fitzgerald’s 33-13. After a bye week and some elitist comments from Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, it was terrific to actually get to a football game. I picked against our squad based on having zero confidence in our offense. I did not take into account just how awful Northwestern is. They are bad. Like, bad, bad. I think I need to go back to picking against us. Superstitious, I am.

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Yoda approves of a Hawkeye win
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Anyway, let’s get back to a traditional report card after last week’s variation.


Dear, Brian Ferentz. We are not on good terms. You still must go. I do like that Iowa used some jet motion and three wide receivers carried the ball. Good job with that.


As stated earlier Northwestern left much to be desired for a B1G opponent. Not that I’m complaining about getting the win. The Hawks needed that in the worst way. I was and wasn’t surprised that Spencer Petras got the start. I felt that Alex Padilla should have been given the opportunity; he was fed to the wolves at the Shoe. Petras played well and deserves to feel great about his performance. Big Spence was 21-30 for 220 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. I wrote on Friday that I wanted Iowa’s quarterback to play well, whoever it may be. It feels like Hawkeye fans have been more frustrated with Kirk and Brian than with Spencer Petras. Petras moved up in the QBR rankings. He is now ranked 119/126.

RB: B+

Iowa has transitioned to Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams as our primary backs. They will continue to improve the more work they get. Johnson had 88 yards on 14 carries (6.3). Williams ran for 43 yards on 11 carries (3.9). Leshon Williams was also involved in the passing game. He caught 3 balls for 19 yards. Brian changed things up, and our offense looked like it resembled an offense, so there’s that.

WR: B-

Iowa’s receivers did more than just go through the motions; a nice change from past weeks. Nico Ragaini led the group with four catches and 66 yards. Brody Brecht hauled in three balls for 18 yards, and Diante Vines flashed some ability catching two passes for 22 yards. Arland Bruce IV ran the ball three times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Vines and Monte Pottebaum with the great blocks to spring Bruce for six points.

Nico Ragaini and Brody Brecht combined to rush for 16 yards.

TE: A-

There are a few constants in college football. One of these is that Iowa is Tight End University. TEU had another good day on Duke Slater Field. Sam LaPorta caught five balls for 53 yards. Luke Lachey had one catch for a six yard touchdown.

It’s been a while since Iowa threw a forward pass that was caught in an area called an end zone. I’m going to do some research to determine how many points this scores.


Spencer Petras was sacked once and Northwestern had two quarterback hurries (QBH). Other than that, Iowa’s backs had some holes/creases that haven’t been there in some time. Iowa rushed for 173 yards with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. That’s winning football.


Speaking of constants in college football? How about Iowa’s defense? Iowa’s defenders show up every game (w/ the exception of hated Purdue) and take care of business.


Iowa’s defensive line wracked up six of Iowa’s seven quarterback sacks on the day. Joe Evans showed out again with five tackles and a sack. Deontae Craig collected three tackles including a sack and 2 TFL’s. Lukas Van Ness was also active; he had four tackles, with 1 sack and 1.5 TFL’s. Northwestern ran the ball 37 times for 18 yards (.5 yards/carry). Incredible.


Jay Higgins has been lurking in the background waiting for his opportunity; he has taken it and run with it. Higgins led the team with 12 tackles. I wrote about him a few years ago and he was a tackling machine in high school. That holds true today. If he gets his hands on you, you’re going down. Jack Campbell had nine tackles and Seth Benson collected six. These two are going to be tough to replace next year. Benson had a sack and 1.5 TFL.

DB/Cash: B

Northwestern threw for two touchdowns and 159 yards. Ten different Wildcats had receptions. Riley Moss led the defensive backs in tackles with five. Moss also had two pass break ups. Kaevon Merriweather snagged an interception.

Special Teams: B

Tory Taylor wanted to remind everyone that he is a human and not some awesome, Aussie god. He got the yips on his one punt attempt that went for 12 yards. Damn, that sounds like some Iowa State or Nebraska special teams s*$#. Drew Stevens banged four field goals and three extra points. Stevens’ longest field goal was a bomb from 54 yards out.

Stevens reminds me a little bit of Nate Kaeding. Arland Bruce IV had forty punt return yards.