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Iowa Football Position Grades: Northwestern

This Iowa team is perfectly imperfect

Iowa v Northwestern
Defensive stand wins it for the Hawks
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The baseball cliches have been flying around Wrigleyville for the past week with Iowa and Northwestern competing to see who has the “less bad” offense. The Hawkeyes scratched out a couple of swinging bunts and managed to get a runner across the plate. Iowa’s defense and special teams (again) came on in the ninth and slammed the door. After a 0-0 halftime score, there was a veritable explosion of points in the second half. The Hawks won 10-7.



So the Hawks did win. I’d rather win than lose. I was unable to watch the first half live as I was watching my son’s team play, but my phone was blowing up about how terrible our quarterback play was. The re-watch confirmed that, yes, indeed, we don’t play football like the rest of the country. Chuck Long and Brad Banks are the apex of Hawk signal calling. We are at Titanic depth right now when it comes to this position. Deacon Hill and company are doing the best they can, but dang. Hill was 10-15 for 65 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. His 23-yard pass to Kaleb Brown did set up Iowa’s game-winning field goal. I’d love to see Joey Labas get a chance to run around a little bit. It won’t happen, but we can always hope.

RB: C+

Leshon Williams toted the rock 24 times for 79 yards (3.3). Jaziun Patterson rushed for 21 yards on 8 carries (2.6). Kaleb Johnson did not play. Iowa’s backs did not put the ball on the ground.


It’s tough to grade Iowa’s wide receivers because they typically don’t get many touches. On the day, Iowa’s wideouts caught 4 balls for 40 yards. Kaleb Brown, sporting a new number because Cooper DeJean is on the loose, hauled in a huge pass for 23 yards.

Diante Vines led the Hawkeyes with two catches.

TE: C+

Iowa’s tight end(s) will pretty much always lead the team in receptions. That was the case on Saturday. Addison Ostrenga steps up to become the next star from TEU. Ostrenga caught 3 balls for 15 yards and a touchdown.


It can’t be easy to run block against a team that knows exactly what you’re going to do. It doesn’t help when the opponent realizes you can’t complete a forward pass. The Hawks’ offensive line did not look as sharp as a few previous games. Iowa’s backs averaged 2.5 yards per carry, and Deacon Hill was sacked twice. A mobile quarterback would help this, but this tiger(hawk) isn’t going to change its stripes.



I fondly recall Iowa’s 34-play goal line stand against Syracuse back in the day. Phil Parker and Kelvin Bell’s crew came up with “The Stand 2.0” against the Wildcats. Deontae Craig led this group with six tackles (0.5 TFL). Joe Evans collected a sack and a QBH. Yahya Black continues to have an excellent year; he had 2 tackles and 1 sack. Ethan Hurkett had 4 tackles and 1 TFL. When your defense doesn’t allow a score in four attempts from the half-yard line, you know the boys were having fun.


A shoutout to linebacker coach Seth Wallace. Jay Higgins is having an all-American year. Higgins had 12 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 TFL. Nick Jackson had 7 tackles and a sack. Jackson is hitting his stride in Phil Parker’s defense.


When an opposing quarterback throws for just 81 yards you are doing something right. Xavier Nwankpa led this group with five tackles including a sack. Sebastian Castro also had five tackles. Cooper DeJean had a pass breakup.

Special Teams: A-

Drew Stevens cooly kicked the game-winner from 52 yards and put the Wildcats night night.

Stevens converted his only extra point. Stevens missed from 53 earlier in the game. Tory Taylor’s was not quite up to his standard; he averaged 39 yards on 6 punts. Anterio Thompson blocked his second punt of the season. Thompson is a freak and it will be fun to see him develop and get more snaps.

Is Iowa always fun to watch? No. At least not offensively. Defensively, Phil Parker just keeps on keeping on. Our special teams are also worth the price of admission. Beth Goetz will be the MVP of this season. The Hawks don’t have much wiggle room, and there’s not much of a chance of us scoring more than 17 points in a game the rest of the season, but all we can ask for is a chance. Iowa football isn’t pretty; heck, it’s rather homely, but it’s ours and we love it. Keep winning games, fellas. Go Hawks!