I will start this blog off with an apology. I picked against our boys. I predicted a 27-9 loss. The fellas out-Wisconsined Wisconsin to take charge of the Big Ten West. I’m sorry, Hawks. I may need to pick against us the rest of the way. I will do my part however I can to help our squad. I’m a team player.
I’m not giving anything lower than a C today. The statistics don’t really back that up, but I care not. A road win at Bucky is a substantial thing. Deacon Hill did just enough for the Hawks to win. He did not throw an interception. He did fumble a snap that could have been catastrophic, but he was able to fall on it. Hill ended up just 6 for 14 for 37 yards. His favorite target, Erick All, did not return after suffering an injury. Eventually,
the Hawks will (hopefully) connect on one of his deep balls, but Iowa’s run game without a doubt is opened up a little more with the threat of Deacon throwing a football over the mountains.
There is a saying when it comes to quarterbacks, “If you have two, you don’t have one.” There is some truth to that. With running backs? Not so much. Iowa has three number-one running backs. Kaleb Johnson, Jaziun Patterson, and Leshon Williams all have carried the mail with success this year and in the past. The day, however, belonged to Leshon Williams. One the afternoon Williams rushed 25 times for 174 yards (7.0) and this beautiful score.
The jump cut, blocking, and broken tackle made this the play of the game (it also was the only touchdown on the day).
(See earlier note about grades)
The Hawkeyes welcomed a wide receiver back into the party this week by completing two balls to Nico Ragaini. He caught two passes for 13 yards. Seth Anderson had a nice gain on the ground, picking up 16 yards on a reverse. With Iowa’s top two tight ends injured, the Hawkeyes will need to explore new ways to get the ball to this position group. Diante Vines was targeted one time, but he did not have a catch.
More bad news for this group. Erick All left the game with a knee injury. He was our best offensive player, and it looks like the Hawks may be without him the rest of the way. Hopefully not. All had 2 catches for 19 yards. Johnny Pascuzzi caught one pass for 1 yard. I went with this grade because despite not catching a lot of passes, this group continues to block very, very well.
Other than throwing the ball exclusively to its tight ends, Iowa has not had an offensive identity in quite some time. We may have just discovered who/what we are. A team that can run the football. The Hawkeyes ran the ball for 200 yards (4.2) against the Badgers. Deacon Hill was sacked twice. It appears the Hawkeyes are becoming more comfortable with each other and understanding responsibilities to a greater extent. Iowa’s big fellas are whiffing on blocks far less often than earlier in the year. If the o-line gets hats on people, Iowa’s backs can get the tough yards. That, my friends, is Iowa Hawkeye Football!
A fellow BHGP staff writer made the comment that Mason Richman made the play of the day when he knocked a sure interception out of a defender’s hands. I agree.
I could give this a big RED STAMPED “A” and be done, but what fun is that?
Wisconsin always has tough, physical offensive lines. Couple that with a monster running back in Braelon Allen, and that’s some tough-sledding for Iowa’s front four. The Hawkeyes were up to the challenge. Iowa sacked Badger quarterbacks once and held Wisconsin to a respectable 3.4 yards per carry. Deontae Craig led this group with five tackles; he also had a QBH. Yahya Black had four tackles and a sack. He appeared to get injured later in the game. It would be a terrific time for Noah Shannon to see the field this Saturday against the Rowing Rodents.
Jay Higgins is now second nationally in tackles. Higgins’ 12.4 tackles/game trails only Old Dominion’s Jason Henderson. Higgins also recovered a fumble. Nick Jackson contributed six tackles and 1 QBH. Kyler Fisher had one tackle, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup as Iowa’s third linebacker.
When Josey Jewell posts this, you know a Hawk defensive player was a DUDE!
Castro is a hammer!!— Josey Jewell (@josey_jewell) October 14, 2023
Josey doesn’t do much with social media, and Josey is a bad, bad man on the football field. Game respects game. I also commented that Sebastian Castro played like Bob Sanders on Saturday. He affected the game in ways that were a throwback to Demond Bob Sanders circa the early 2000’s.
Another one. Black and Castro combine for a forced fumble and safety.
I could have picked three more Castro highlights for this article. I’ll end with this interception that Castro would have taken back for six had he wanted to. What a game by this young man!
Special Teams: A
One of my favorite Tweets (X) from the game was a Wisconsin site that said, “We need to get this Iowa punter drug tested.” Props to you sir, or madam. In a B1G player of the week performance, Tory Taylor punted for 506 yards (50.6). Punting is indeed winning at Iowa.
Taylor flipped the field all day long and pinned the Badgers deep. He had six punts inside the 20 and zero touchbacks. Kicker Drew Stevens made field goals from 48 and 40, and he was 1 for 1 on his extra point attempt.
Next Up: Floyd!
The Hawkeyes host the Minnesota Fleckers this Saturday at Kinnick/Clark Stadium. Eventually the Gophers will break through against the Hawks. The game does have a letdown vibe to it. If you’ve been a Hawk fan long enough, you can remember a number of games where the Hawks had an opportunity and didn’t make hay when there was still daylight left. Let’s get that hay in the barn, Hawks! As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye!