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Iowa Hawkeye Football Position Grades: Tennessee


Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Tennessee
Marco (and Joey Labas) can run!
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

I actually thought we were going to win that football game. I thought we needed a defensive score to do so, but instead, Brian Ferentz and his fraudulent offense whimpered into the offseason with back-to-back shutouts. Thanks for being a Hawkeye, BF, but please see yourself out after you kindly set down your keys. Beth Goetz deserves a parade for all she has done for the program. Interim no longer.

Offense: F (Can I just move on?)


I learned from my mom that if you can’t say anything nice... Sorry, Mom. I am disappointed in how mismanaged our quarterback room has been handled. Cade McNamara is a legit dude. He also has not been healthy in quite some time, nor should we expect him ever to be completely healthy again. Deacon Hill did his best. It was atrocious. It’s not on the players, it’s on the coaching staff. I have said this many times, but I attended the Music City Bowl a year ago. Joey Labas, a better passer than Marco Lainez (IMHO), made some plays with his legs. Joey is passed up in the offseason - maybe due to an injury. Deacon Hill gets the nod as he has a cup of coffee’s worth of experience. Big Deac’s mobility made Spencer Petras look like Fran Tarkenton (Michael Vick/Steve Young). Marco Lainez comes off the bench and freaking flies. Is he an accomplished passer? No. Kirk’s issue is not turning the ball over. Deacon was generous with the football, giving away two a game. I have no idea why the Hawks didn’t go with a running quarterback and throw the ball no more than ten times a game. Iowa wasted a half year of development (and the loss of Labas) for Lainez running with the ones. Hill was 7 of 18 for 56 yards, 2 interceptions, and 1 lost fumble. Hill was also sacked four times (not all on the offensive line).


I really don’t know how to grade this. Our offense wishes it could be called a mess. One interesting thing is that five Iowa running backs carried the ball. Kaleb Johnson rushed seven times for 34 yards (4.9). Leshon Williams, Terrell Washington Jr., Jaziun Patterson, and Kamari Moulton also got carries. I would assume there will be some attrition here, but Iowa does have capable ball carriers.


Kaleb Brown became a weapon this year (at least by Iowa’s standards). He caught three balls for 39 yards. He had two drops. Nico Ragaini finished his career with two catches for three yards. If our new offensive coordinator has a WR coach he loves, I’d be glad to bring him on board.


Getting Luke Lachey back next year will be a tremendous boost. Addison Ostrenga is also going to be a player. Ostrenga had two catches for 14 yards. Steven Stilianos caught one pass for four yards.


Kirk Ferentz is one of the best offensive line coaches in the history of the game. I am a bit dumbfounded by our choice at the center position. Logan Jones, to my untrained eye, was not as good as Tyler Elsbury. George Barnett needs for this position group to make some serious strides. At least completely whiffing on blocks became less of a thing as the year progressed. Iowa gained 152 yards on the ground (113 net) but allowed four sacks.

Offensive MVP: Beth Goetz




First, the good news. Joe Evans went out on top individually. Evans had five tackles, four of which were sacks. That dude is going to be missed next year. The Hawks are in need of an edge rusher. Iowa’s defensive line did not dominate this season. They were good, but not great. Tennessee gained 256 yards (4.3) on the ground.


With one more year to play Jay Higgins did what Jay Higgins does. He tackled people. JHigg had 16 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 QBH. Nick Jackson brought the wood 11 times. Jackson is able to return for an extra year. Hopefully, he does as he improved every game this season.


Iowa’s back end did what they were supposed to do. They did not give up a big play over the top. Nico Iamaleava is going to be very good. He was an efficient 12 of 19 for 151 yards and one score through the air. Sebastian Castro quietly became one of my favorite players. He plays with an edge like Bob Sanders. Castro had six tackles. Quinn Schulte had five. Phil Parker has some work to do next year (depending on returnees), but Parker has proven he will put together a salty defensive backfield.

Defensive Co-MVP’s: Jay Higgins and Joe Evans

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa vs Tennessee
One more year of JHigg!
Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Special Teams: A-

Tory Taylor, we wish you well and we will see you on Sundays. Thank you for winning five football games these last few years. Taylor set the all-time, single-season punting yardage record with 4379 yards. He broke Johnny Pingel’s (Michigan State) record that went all the way back to 1938. Taylor punted seven times for 360 yards (51.4). Taylor’s prowess became a crutch for Kirk/Brian. Iowa’s return and coverage units fell off a bit with the injury to Cooper DeJean, but that’s to be expected. Drew Stevens didn’t have a field goal attempt in the last two games. Yikes.

Special Teams MVP: Tory Taylor / Cooper DeJean

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan vs Iowa
Tip of the cap to Tory Taylor
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So that does it for another year of Hawkeye football. This will be the biggest offseason in Kirk Ferentz’s tenure in Iowa City. Ideally, Paul Chryst rolls into town and tells Kirk, “Hands off the offense. I got this.” As always, even though watching our offense has been painful for years, it’s great to be a Hawkeye. Go Hawks!