The Hawkeyes made what could have very easily been a tricky trip to Piscataway look fairly easy on Saturday. They did so in a very Hawkeye manner as well as their first two touchdowns of the game were scored on a pick six and a scoop and score. I love watching these games knowing that on other broadcasts and at other stadiums when Iowa’s score scrolls across the screen that people joke “oh, Iowa must have gotten 2 TD’s on defense.” Only to later pull up the box score on their phone and realize that they did. At this point I’m just fully embracing this season. Has it been so ugly that it amounts to nothing more than a mud pit of punting and archaic offense? Sure it has! But you know what, it’s our mud pit. And that still stands for something... It has to...
Ticker Symbol: (SWISS AK)
Seriously is this man ever going to cool off!? Dejean recorded his third interception of the season on Saturday and turned it into his first pick six. I recognize that the players trying to tackle him during his dazzling return were offensive skill players, but his vision to cut all the way across the field was All-American level stuff. If he keeps this up, the Hawkeyes are going to have another Big Ten Defensive Back of the year.
Ticker Symbol: (WILLIAMSBROS.INC)
The running backs are starting to make their presence known on the field. Last week it was Kaleb Johnson and this week I’ll give it to Leshon. Williams toted the rock 11 times for 64 yards, good for a 5.8 average and added a score. This guy is becoming an easy guy to root for with his combination of power and subtle wiggle in the hole. After having missed the Nevada game because of the passing of his father, a good performance was well deserved. The Hawks are going to need similar numbers from him this weekend against the Wolverines.
Ticker Symbol: (TEU#84)
Iowa’s star tight end makes the in-season stock risers list for the first time after his solid performance in Piscataway. Laporta led all pass catchers in both receptions (4) and yards (77). Without Laporta’s output, this game would have been a hell of a lot scarier. Petras was dialed in to both his tight ends so if the Hawks were going to get any production through the air it was going to have to be the TE’s. Laporta had a nice 42 yard catch that saw the former WR line up outside and run a go route down the sideline. I’m not convinced this will continue to work but hey, Brian dialed up a deep pass so I wont complain. Hopefully this performance gets Sam going as again, for Iowa to beat Michigan, their stars are going to have to shine.
Ticker Symbol: (LEADER)
Merriweather said before the year started that he took being the only member of the 2021 Dough Boys left off an All-Big Ten team personal. If he continues to produce like he did against Rutgers, he’ll be on one of those teams without a doubt. The man who continues to be one of Iowa’s premier leaders recorded 3 tackles, 1 interception, and scoped up a fumble returning it to the house. Kaevon also dropped an easy interception later in the game on 4th down and claims he was just batting it down to save field position... whatever you say man,
Ticker Symbol: (OK)
Ok, lets cautiously tread out onto the Spencer Petras ice for a moment. He makes this list because he did play better this past weekend against a decent defense. The numbers were... ok. Spencer finished 11/17 for 148 yards with no TD’s and but also no costly interceptions. That 11/17 is good enough for 64.7% which we would all signup for in a heartbeat. I liked that he seemed to be more willing to attempt to escape pressure in order to negate negative plays. I agree with a comment from tnels during the game that it’d be nice for him to stop and set his feet on some of those to see if he can deliver a ball to a man down field who may be open in broken coverage but let’s take these baby steps first. This is all we need Spencer to be. A 60% completion rate, game manager quarterback who can compliment a growing running game. The concern coming out of this game and over his ability to be that game manager QB is that he completed just 1 pass to a wide receiver all game and only targeted them 3 times. Iowa didn’t need it this game, but if that doesn’t change, they’ll lose two games because of it.
Ticker Symbol: (BANDOFBROTHERS)
The entire unit is on the list this week because while nobody necessarily stood out from the rest, the group as a whole made progress for the second straight week. The difference this time was that their performance came against a good Rutgers run defense. Is that defense actually the top 3 rush defense that i was coming into the contest? No. But they are coached well and will prove to be feisty throughout the season I believe. Behind the O-line, the Hawks rushed for 129 with a 13 yard sack and bad holding call negating 12 yards included in that total. They also gave Spencer ample time to set his feet in the pocket allowing him to get in rhythm early. I would love to see Tyler Elsbury get more time and have the staff narrow in on a consistent 5 or 6 guys up front. I also wonder who would be involved in that top 5. Logan Jones to me seems like he may be a weak spot at center so do you maybe move him to guard? These are the questions Hawkeye coaches are trying to answer for a unit that as mentioned, continues to improve
Lukas Van Ness
Ticker Symbol (HULK)
Along with Dejean, Van Ness is just going to be permanently on this list it seems. This man child only furthered my comparison of him to Matt Roth when he absolutely UNLOADED on Rutgers quarterback Evan Simon leading to Dejean’s pick six. I have know idea how Simon got up after that moment of viciousness so props to him. LVN had 3 tackles including another sack on the night but he continues to impress with keeping outside contain on running plays. If he is slotted out at defensive end against Michigan, they will need that tremendous discipline to continue as Michigan running back Blake Corum looks to bounce everything to the outside.
Ticker Symbool: (MVP)
This is just for formality’s sake. Taylor won the most anticipated punting battle of the century dropping four of his five punts inside the 20. Are you surprised?
Ticker Symbol: (ABSENT)
After being targeted ample times against Nevada, the wide receiver room as a whole provided one catch for 5 yards Saturday night. That has to change. They have injuries in that room yes, but one catch is unacceptable. I don’t think it falls soley on them because Petras was looking for Laporta or Lachey it seemed most of the night but these wide receivers have to force Petras to throw to them. Heres hoping they have more than one catch against the Wolverines on Saturday.