Iowa improved their record to 6-0 with a win over Illinois on Saturday by a score of 29-20. Hawkeye Insider takes a look at both sides of the ball and gives out three game balls to both the offense and defense.
OFFENSES'S GAME BALLS
RUNNING BACK JORDAN CANZERI
I feel like this is an easy selection. With LeShun Daniels out of action, Canzeri shouldered nearly 100 percent of the load in the backfield but was unphased by the amount he was relied upon. He carried the ball a school record 43 times for 256 yards, including a touchdown on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield. It was a record setting day for the senior.
WIDE RECEIVER JERMINIC SMITH
Jerminic was another that stepped up with an injured player down. Tevaun Smith is sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury. In steps the true freshman and he not only contributed 4 receptions for 118 yards but he also showed maturity upon his years by being more than adequate as a blocker. With Tevaun out, Iowa needed a new vertical threat to take the top off a defense and Jerminic emerged as that kind of weapon.
OFFENSIVE GUARD JORDAN WALSH
He's been great all year and has received some notoriety from some very intelligent football folks thus far. Saturday was his guttiest performance. He suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter that caused him to miss time. He displayed extreme toughness by coming back out in the second half and gutting it out when his team needed it the most. He not only helped the Hawkeye offense with his sheer presence but they ran to his side a ton. His senior leadership has been something to behold this year.
DEFENSE'S GAME BALLS
Defensive Tackle Jaleel Johnson
He could have been bestowed this honor in just about every game. He may be the most important player to this defense. Drew Ott and Desmond King get a lot of the attention, but Jaleel Johnson is the table setter. He allows the other defensive linemen to make most of the plays they do because he just stuffs the middle, disrupts everything in the backfield, and holds his ground against double teams. He's quietly became one of the Big Ten's best defensive tackles.
Linebacker Josey Jewell
To be honest, the top linebacker this year as a whole has probably been Ben Niemann. But against Illinois, it was Josey Jewell. He was very disruptive, nearly had an interception, and was big in stuffing the Illini run. Illinois ran for only 1.9 yards a carry and 46 yards total. Some of that was due to their unwillingness to keep the ball on the ground but also Jewell running free and making plays.
Defensive End Drew Ott
Unfortunately it appears has been cut short after the Cedar Rapids Gazette has reported he will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. He went down with a non-contact knee injury during the third quarter on Saturday, did not return, and was seen walking with crutches afterwards. This game ball is largely due to the impact he had in the first half not only as a pass rusher, but his effort in stopping the run. But let's not sugarcoat it, this is a career achievement game ball as well. He's been the main staple for this defense for multiple seasons and he will be missed. We wish him a full recovery.