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Iowa Hawkeye Football Position Grades: Western Michigan

Hawkeyes improve to 3-0

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Iowa
Leshon Williams got it done
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tale of two halves as the Iowa Hawkeyes ended up blowing out Western Michigan by a score of 41-10 in Iowa City. Iowa looked terrible early, but the big surprise was that Iowa’s defense did not look like Iowa’s defense. Heading into “The Wave,” Iowa trailed 7-0. The Hawks held a 14-10 halftime lead, and then Iowa’s ground game got on track. Phil Parker’s defense made Western Michigan earn every yard in the second half, and the Hawks were able to get some quality reps for numerous backups.



First of all, Cade McNamara is not healthy. I should watch some film from his Michigan days, but his throwing motion appears to be Cade just arming every throw. His leg(s) are not part of the equation at this point, at least to my uneducated eye. On the day, Cade Mac was 9 of 19 for 103 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. It was a forgettable performance. On the interception just before halftime, McNamara had a wide-open Seth Anderson for six, but he held the ball too long. Brian Ferentz calmly voiced his displeasure.

Deacon Hill came on in relief once the game was decided and went 2 for 3 for 30 yards.


“Programs! Get ya programs here! Can’t tell the players without a program!” - Ok, so nobody really sells programs anymore. At least no one yells at you to buy one. After starter Kaleb Johnson sat out, and last week’s star, Jaziun Patterson, got dinged up, Iowa’s running backs coach Ladell Betts proved the cupboard was far from bare. Kamari Moulton carried the ball eight times for 50 yards (6.2) and two touchdowns, Terrell Washington Jr. toted the rock six times for 31 yards (5.2), and Max White also found the endzone. Leshon Williams looked spectacular with 145 yards on 12 carries (12.1) and two catches for 27 yards and a score.


Wide receiver touchdown, wide receiver touchdown! I may or may not have tweeted (X’d) that during the game after Diante Vines caught the first scoring pass of his career. We have to celebrate such things. There typically aren’t a ton of opportunities for Iowa’s wideouts to catch balls, but we take what we can get. Vines had two catches, Seth Anderson and Nico Ragaini each had one. Anderson appears to be McNamara’s favorite non-tight end target.


First the bad news. Luke Lachey looks to be out for a while. His ankle didn’t look like ankles should and Lachey returned to the sideline in a boot. Lachey is an excellent football player and he will be missed. Thankfully, the Hawks have depth at the tight end position. Steven Stillianos caught two passes for 29 yards, Addison Ostrenga had two receptions for 19 yards, and Erick All caught one ball for 34 yards. Stillianos or Ostrenga will get more reps going forward; Iowa may also go with more wide receiver sets as well. We are Iowa, however, so big guys blocking and catching balls is what we do.


So this one was a little tough for me. Iowa’s boys up front bulldozed the heck outta Western Michigan. It was the best our rushing attack has looked in quite some time. I am an old-school guy when it comes to football. Heck, when I play Madden I take pride in running the football. There is something to be said when a team imposes its will on the opposition. Instead of three yards and a cloud of dust, it was a bunch of yards and rubber pellets from the turf flying. The “B” grade comes from the four sacks allowed. With his quad injury, Cade McNamara is not completely mobile back in the pocket, but the Hawks did not keep Cade clean on the day. Penn State’s defense terrifies me because their 11 are a lot better than Western Michigan’s 11. Iowa’s offensive line seems to be making strides each week. If our pass protection and run blocking both come together, the Hawks can make Happy Valley not so happy.


Before the grades, we have to give props (once again) to Phil Parker. Iowa’s defense looked terrible early on against Western Michigan. We are spoiled. Everyone in the country sans Georgia gives up big plays. Not us. At least not much. After Western Michigan scorched the Hawk defense at times in the first half, Phil’s Prodigies strapped on the helmets a little tighter and got (stuff) done.


Iowa’s defensive line has not been as impressive as I would like through the first three games. Losing Noah Shannon definitely hurt, but I had Dickens-like expectations for our front four. Yahya Black led this group with six tackles. Joe Evans has been our best defensive lineman this year; he had three tackles including a sack and a quarterback hurry. Ethan Hurkett and Deonte Craig also tallied QBH’s. Jeremiah Pittman recovered a fumble.

LB: B+

The first half was nothing to write home about. The Hawks made hay in the second half. Nick Jackson had nine tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Once he gets more comfortable playing Phil Parker’s defense, he will make even more plays. Jay Higgins also had nine tackles as well as a forced fumble. The second half was a very good half for Iowa’s ‘backers.


There was some ugliness in Iowa’s defensive backfield on Saturday. The Hawks gave up an easy long touchdown pass early on; Jermari Harris made his return and there was quite a bit of rust that needed to be sanded and touched up. The reps and communication were not there early on. The Hawkeyes also got lucky later in the game when Iowa allowed a very easy touchdown over the top. A Western Michigan penalty negated the score, but there were some plays the Broncos missed on that Penn State won’t this week.

Special Teams: A(A-)

Iowa’s special teams were once again, well, special. I expect every attempted field goal to be three points, thus the A/A- grade. Otherwise, LeVar Woods creates magic every day. Drew Stevens was 4 for 4 on extra points and 1 for 2 on field goals. One of my favorite plays in football is a punt downed inside the one-yard line. That got stamped on the special teams bingo card. Phil Parker’s boys eat when the opponent is backed into its own endzone. Anterio Thompson blocked a punt for a safety. Hayden Large has done an admirable job at fullback, but seeing Thompson’s frame and athleticism, tell me he wouldn’t be a nightmare coming at you as a lead blocker.

Cooper DeJean totaled 77 yards on punt returns, and Kaden Wetjen racked up 88 yards on kick returns.

So it’s on to Penn State. I don’t like them. Go Hawks!