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Iowa Football Position Grades: Nevada

Did the Hawks get some confidence/mojo back?

The weather didn’t cooperate, but the Hawks looked better

We’re back, baby! Ok, maybe not, but Iowa’s offense did look more like Iowa than a middle school football team. Nevada is terrible, so it’s a bit hard to gauge much off of the 27-0 victory. Our defense and special teams? Both are special. Offensively there were a few glimmers of hope, but it’s definitely a work in progress.



Whether it was a terrible defense, Iowa getting Keagan Johnson, Brody Brecht, and Nico Ragaini back, or Spencer Petras getting some confidence back, Iowa looked like a competent offense on Saturday/Sunday. I, and most of Hawkeye nation, was ready to pull the plug on the Spencer Petras experiment. If Petras can play at the level he played at against the Wolf Pack, Iowa’s season looks like it can be salvaged. It’s funny writing that considering we are 2-1, but what we saw the first two weeks would have led to a three win season, maybe. Petras was 14 for 26 (54%) for 175 yards and one touchdown. He made most of the throws that he’s supposed to make. He also had a few nice balls that weren’t caught. He threw a perfect strike to Ragaini on the sideline that was brilliantly knocked away by a defender. Most importantly, Big Spence didn’t turn the ball over. It was rather strange that Alex Padilla didn’t take a snap in a game that saw 56 Hawkeyes see the field. The Hawks emptied their bench with the exception of the quarterback position.


The Hawkeyes got their number one running back back in the fold, but the story of the game was true frosh Kaleb Johnson. Here is Johnson’s first touchdown on the game.

Johnson housed another one (DJ Khaled voice) in the second half. I watched this run three times because it looked so strange. Johnson ran like he was bored. His running style is so effortless but he runs away from people.

On the day Johnson rushed 7 times for 103 yards (14.7). He may be Iowa’s primary back before too long. Gavin Williams ran 16 times for 57 yards for a respectable 3.6 yards. Jaziun Patterson toted the ball six times for 20 yards. He did a very nice job of keeping his feet moving after initial contact. Ladell Betts is earning his keep.

WR: B-

The Hawkeyes got a big boost getting healthy pass catchers back in the lineup. Arland Bruce IV made a beautiful catch in the end zone for what felt like Iowa’s first passing touchdown in seven years. Nico Ragaini made the play of the day when he turned an interception into a big (Ra)gain(i).

Keagan Johnson caught two balls for 11 yards and Brody Brecht had one catch for four yards. A few times it looked like Iowa’s receivers either didn’t see the ball or didn’t have their hands up in time to make a catch, thus a low-ish grade. Working Keagan and Brecht back in the fold should be a huge boost going forward.


This grade is tough/misleading in that statistically speaking there wasn’t much from this position. Sam LaPorta had two catches for 13 yards. That’s it. Luke Lachey, Addison Ostrenga, and Steven Stilianos all were held without a catch. The Hawkeyes were more intentional in getting our healthy wide receivers involved. This lessened the impact from this position.

OL: C+

Iowa’s line looked better, albeit against a defense that wasn’t very good. On Kaleb Johnson’s scores (especially the second one) there was some excellent blocking. The Hawkeyes averaged 4.6 yards on the ground. The negative was that Spencer Petras was sacked three times. Hopefully as this group plays more together they continue to show improvement. Iowa’s margin for error offensively is so small almost every aspect has to click in order for us to put points on the board. Everything starts with the offensive line.

  • Brian Ferentz deservedly took a lot of heat the last few weeks. To his credit he took some shots downfield. This opened up our run game and made Nevada honest. At least for the day the Hawkeyes’ offense looked competent.



The Hawkeyes’ defensive line got to the Nevada quarterback for four sacks. Lukas Van Ness was a beast with eight tackles including 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL. Aaron Graves showed he will be a force as he bullied his way to the quarterback. Iowa’s DL also had 3 QBH (quarterback hurries) on the day. The Wolf Pack was held to 69 yards rushing (1.9 average).

LB: B+

It was a solid day from Iowa’s linebackers. Jack Campbell is always around the ball. He had ten tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 QBH. Seth Benson added seven tackles. Jay Higgins got his first extended time with the injury to Jestin Jacobs. Higgins had two tackles on the day.

DB/Cash: A

It is fun watching Cooper DeJean play football. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players. DeJean had two tackles, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups. My guess is that he will find the end zone in the next couple of games. Quinn Schulte had another quality game with six tackles. Kaevon Merriweather had five tackles. Terry Roberts housed an interception but it was called back due to an offside penalty. Phil Parker was able to get in a lot of young players in the secondary. That will pay off down the road.

Special Teams: A

After a “down” game against Iowa State (A-) the Hawkeyes’ special teams were once again special. Arland Bruce IV averaged 13.4 yards on his three punt returns. Drew Stevens took control of the placekicking job, converting on both of his extra points and hitting field goals from 33 and 43. Tory Taylor punted for an average of 46.7 yards. He also had four punts downed inside the 20. LeVar Woods is good at his job.

  • Historically when Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have their backs against the wall, they come out swinging. Let’s keep those first two games in the rearview mirror and get rolling against Rutgers. As always, Go Hawks!