If you can take one thing to the bank it is that Kirk Ferentz learned the psychology of football from John Hayden Fry. Coach Fry was a very astute person when it came to teaching players how to play the game between one’s ears. Every time that Kirk Ferentz has faced adversity in his career (a slow start, Rhabdo, allegations of unequal treatment towards players of color, or his own son’s abysmal performance as Iowa’s offensive coordinator), he hunkers down, circles the wagons, and gets his guys to buy in to the “it’s us vs. them” mentality. The Hawks put their collective noses to the grindstone and just kept working. There are some Hawk fans who want Iowa to lose to finally be done with Brian Ferentz. I’m not one of them. I would do darn near anything for the Hawks to win. I think that Brian will get a job this offseason as a position coach in the NFL. Kirk has to do this; not just for the program but for his son. Let’s get to the game.
I will take a win over impressive stats eight days a week. Spencer Petras had a target on his back for much of the day. Petras was sacked six times and it felt like more than that. I thought that Petras threw a number of near-perfect footballs.
On the day his numbers were not very good, but to his credit he did not throw an interception. Wisconsin is built like the Hawks. If you turn the ball over against them you can pretty much chalk up a loss. Petras was 14 for 23 for 94 yards. You can see why Spencer’s teammates like him and have his back. He has taken a physical, and emotional, beating this year and keeps getting back up.
Iowa’s run game came back down to earth; much of this was because Wisconsin’s defense is not Northwestern or Purdue. Kaleb Johnson toted the rock 22 times for 57 net yards (2.6). Gavin Williams ran six times for an average of 3.2 yards, and Leshon Williams ran nine times for 17 yards (1.9). It was not a great day for Iowa’s offensive line, thus a low grade for Iowa’s backs.
Productivity and Iowa’s receivers is a relative term. Coach Kelton Copeland mentioned this week about some of the difficulties and perceived difficulties of the position at Iowa. Blocking is far more important at Iowa than most other schools. Being a selfless player is first, second, and third on the list if you are an “out wide” for the Hawkeyes. Diante Vines has been a nice contributor since coming back from injury. Vines had 3 catches on 3 targets for 25 yards. Nico Ragaini caught three of his five targets for 15 yards. Brody Brecht was targeted twice but did not have a reception. Arland Bruce IV did not play due to injury.
Sam LaPorta owes Spencer Petras a cold beverage each time they meet up the rest of their lives. LaPorta has made a career (to the point of being Iowa’s all-time tight end reception leader) off of being Petra’s security blanket. Sam I am had five catches for 48 yards. Luke Lachey had one catch for five yards. Lachey will take off next year. You can take that to the bank as well.
Ok, maybe a little too hard on this? Maybe not. As stated earlier but Wisconsin was in Iowa’s backfield more than Iowa was. Petras was sacked six times, he was hurried another, and Iowa averaged 1.2 yards on the ground (with sacks included). Wisconsin’s defense gives some different looks and there were a number of times where Iowa failed to block anyone. Going back to my glorious youth coaching days (6th grade championship, thank you) I’d always tell my guys that if you didn’t know who to hit, just hit someone!!!! It’s amazing that even at this level players will just watch people go by them. Here were a few plays where the Badgers had open flood gates to Iowa’s backs.
Gotta get that cleaned up. Snort.
Holy smoke Iowa’s defensive line has some incredible depth. Deontae Craig, Logan Lee, Noah Shannon, Joe Evans, and Lukas Van Ness just flat out get after it. The defensive line totaled four sacks on Graham Mertz. Joe Evans forced a fumble and Logan Lee recovered a fumble. Aaron Graves with a year in the program? Forget about it! This group will be stacked!
Enjoy Jack Campbell these next three games, folks. He is something else. It will be a pleasure watching him play on Sundays for the next ten years. He had 11 tackles on the day. His toughness and leadership set the tone for this defense. Seth Benson had 2 tackles as did Jay Higgins.
Speaking of Sundays, I hope we have Cooper DeJean for more than next year. He is special. What didn’t he do against Sconnie? He had ten tackles, 1 TFL, a pick six, and 82 punt return yards. He has that Micah Hyde/Tim Dwight talent.
Please, please, please get the ball in his hands for a few plays on offense. Sebastian Castro continues to lay the wood with 1 TFL and a forced fumble. Kaevon Merriweather had three tackles and 2 pass break ups. Riley Moss also had an interception and 1 BrUp.
Special Teams: A
Deontae Craig broke through the line to block a Badger punt. And.....Boom Goes the Dynamite!
If you block a punt there’s a 90% chance you’re going to win the game. That held true yet again. Tory Taylor was decent averaging 43.4 yards, including one punt that was downed perfectly. Cooper DeJean was electric in the punt return game, averaging over 20 yards on his four returns. Drew Stevens continues to have one of the better freshman seasons for a kicker in recent memory, and Iowa has had some pretty special kickers. Stevens converted on all three of his extra points and also made a field goal from 44 yards out.