I believe this is my third year of doing position grades. I’m often asked about giving grades to the coaching staff. If people would like to see this, I’d be happy to do so. For now, let’s go with the following letter grades that can carry over from week to week.
Kirk Ferentz: B/C (I’m a big KF fan; his loyalty to his son has hurt his program)
Brian Ferentz: C to F (I think BF has coached some excellent games: USC Holiday Bowl, Ohio State Woodshed, Kentucky Citrus Bowl.) For the most part it feels like our offensive line has struggled, our QB’s are not good, and our receivers aren’t wide open like every other college football game you turn to. This of course is anecdotal, but I know many Hawkeye fans share this pain.
Phil Parker: A (drop this to a D vs Purdue)
LeVar Woods: A
Now on to the game. I had written this game had the feeling of the 2016 game against UNI where No. 22 Iowa had to block two field goals to preserve a 17-16 victory, and the 2016 game where No. 13 Iowa lost to North Dakota State 23-21. My prediction of a 21-20 Iowa victory showed the closeness of the game, but what the heck was I thinking about us scoring 21 points?!?!?
To start off, I was somewhat optimistic about Iowa’s offense going into this season. Iowa’s offense is worse than I thought. It was painful to watch (maybe the only benefit of watching on my phone?).
Ok, so first of all, this is an inexact science. Like, big-time. I watched the game on my phone while my wife drove to my son’s first college football game. His squad, Macalester, beat Minnesota Morris 45-24. Minnesota Morris has the same dumb fight song as the Boat Rowers while replacing the word Gophers with Cougars. Lame. Watching the game I felt like Spencer Petras’ grade would be an F. It was bad. I did do about 45 seconds of “research” and I looked back on a few of my other articles. In the Hawks’ 2021 27-17 victory against Iowa State, Petras was 11/21 for 106 yards. He threw no interceptions and had 1 touchdown. I gave Spencer a C+ for that particular game. I had written that I overvalue team wins when I grade quarterbacks. That may need to be re-thought. Anyway, against SDSU, Petras was 11/25 for 109 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. Petras made a few nice throws, but I honestly am surprised every time we complete a forward pass. I grew up watching Chuck Long; it was surprising when he didn’t complete a pass. The bar has been lowered to floor level. Our OL did not do Spencer any favors.
See above about OL. Iowa was missing Gavin Williams in the run game. Leshon Williams ran hard but his day consisted of 24/72 (3.0). He also fumbled once. Williams caught two balls for 23 yards. Kaleb Johnson has received some rave reviews based on his ability in camp, but he “ran” three times for zero yards. He performed admirably just to not lose yards. I was glad to see Brian Ferentz not abandon the run even though it wasn’t working. We don’t want to get in a throwing match with teams.
Not a ton to go on here for Iowa’s depleted WR corps. Arland Bruce IV was a dude with 5 catches for 68 yards. He also ran once for 11 yards (more of this, please). Alec Wick was targeted once. He made a diving attempt but the ball was thrown into the ground.
This was another tough grade. Based on numbers, Sam LaPorta (2 for 9 yards) and Luke Lachey (1 for 6 yards), struggled. They were targeted 9 times with only 3 balls that were completed. Normally LaPorta is Petras’ security blanket. When he can’t hit him... yikes.
Captain Obvious, but how good was Tyler LInderbaum? Dang, I’m gonna miss watching him play Hawkeye football. Iowa often does a nice job of developing an offensive line, but it takes time. Right now due to injuries, etc... this unit struggled with a capital STRUGGLED. Iowa’s running game averaged 1.6 yards per rush. That’s as bad as you will see. Spencer Petras was sacked twice. He miraculously avoided another sack; he’s not the most mobile of signal callers. This group will improve, but they have about five days to make significant strides or our streak against Iowa State will come to an end.
Iowa’s defense was excellent. Logan Lee was a standout. He had six tackles with 1.5 sacks. Joe Evans (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 safety) was a playmaker and Noah Shannon played excellent football getting 2 TFL’s and 2 QBH’s (quarterback hurries). Iowa will need more statistically from John Waggoner and Lukas Van Ness.
Jack Campbell is good at footballing. He had 12 tackles (1.5 TFL), 1 QBH, and a safety. Jestin Jacobs had 5 tackles with a pass breakup. He left the game a little banged up. Seth Benson had four tackles and 2 QBH.
Kaevon Merriweather, Terry Roberts (was excellent), Riley Moss, Cooper DeJean, and Quinn Schulte played a solid game on Iowa’s back end. Schulte had four pass breakups. It was important that his targeting review did not require him to miss the first half of next week’s contest. This group did not have a takeaway. Hopefully Iowa State’s quarterback(s) oblige this unit with some footballs next week.
Special Teams: A-
This unit wasn’t perfect, but Tory Taylor was close. Taylor punted 10 times for 479 yards (47.9). He had a long of 57 with seven balls downed inside the 20. Cooper DeJean looked more like a punt returner catching Taylor’s high punts than any silly rabbit did. Aaron Blom missed a 40 yard field goal and hit one from 46. It was nice he was able to bounce back from his miss. Arland Bruce was steady returning punts.
Things are never as good, nor bad, as they seem. South Dakota State is an excellent FCS team. They can go toe-to-toe with most anyone not named Alabama or Georgia. Iowa returns some talent. Until our passing game (schemes and QB play) can make defenses pay, I’m afraid our backs are going to see massive fronts deployed to stop the run.
It’s Iowa State week. Turn the page and improve, Hawkeyes! As always, Go Hawks!