Iowa Week 4 Report Card: Rutgers

Iowa's Week 4 report card grades each position based on their production and performance. What players and groups had the best showing against Rutgers?

QUARTERBACKS

STANDOUT: N/A
GRADE: C+
SUMMARY: Only Beathard played but not up to the level to consider him a standout against Rutgers. He was nothing more than average on this day, but no glaring mistakes which is always a good thing under center. However, a lot of the sacks were coverage sacks so much of the blame belongs on the wideouts but he also isn't manipulating the pocket, creating, and escaping like he did a year ago. He's struggling to keep plays alive. Some of the balls need to be at least thrown away. A few were but he's got to get out of there and get rid of the ball. Not all the overthrows were on him though which was a key observation I made on the re-watch. There's some miscommunication and not being on the same page in terms of some of the misconnections. I think he's throwing the ball before he wants to in some cases and the receiver isn't breaking free of the jam. That is what happened on the fourth down pass to Jerminic Smith. 

RUNNING BACKS

STANDOUT: Akrum Wadley
GRADE: B
SUMMARY: They had a good day. LeShun Daniels iced the game in the fourth quarter. He also had another long touchdown run called back. Had it stood, and Iowa kicked the field goal, they would have scored on three consecutive drives and been up 17-0 right at the beginning of the second half (Kittle's touchdown reception was sandwiched in between). That's a big sequence. It kind of shows that Iowa may not be too far off but the little things are big deciding factors. Daniels was also much better in pass protection. I thought he did leave a good chunk of yards on the field, though. I saw about two runs where he was a shoestring tackle away from taking it to the house. Wadley rarely leaves yards on the field, and he also had a good day, but he still doesn't look 100 percent. He isn't stopping and starting or making the cuts on the dime like I've seen when he's at full health. Wadley was just a little better on this day to me though because he ran hard, had the big score, and left less yards on the field by my estimation. 

WIDE RECEIVERS

STANDOUT: N/A
GRADE: D
SUMMARY: About the only compliments I could reasonably share were about Jerminic Smith but then again he wasn't special either. His back-shoulder catch was very nice and he had a few sensational blocks on the day. However, he missed a back-shoulder catch as well due to not finding the ball in time and poor body control. VandeBerg was okay but he was schemed out for the most part as Rutgers forced the other wideouts to beat them and they couldn't. They just weren't getting open in time. One problem I saw pop up quite a bit was the inability to beat the jam on the line of scrimmage, especially with Jerminic Smith. That's what caused the timing to be off between him and Beathard on the fourth down play. He broke free too late and Beathard had to throw it before he wanted to and Smith couldn't recover in time. 

TIGHT ENDS

STANDOUT: George Kittle
GRADE: B
SUMMARY: Kittle wasn't open a whole lot either but he did find some space a few times and did haul in a crucial touchdown reception on a well-designed play and brilliant call from Greg Davis. He's always a devastating blocker and was again. Pekar had a few solid blocks. Pekar also allowed a sack off the edge but that was the only clear mistake I saw from this group. 

OFFENSIVE LINE

STANDOUT: Boone Myers
GRADE: B+
SUMMARY: Pass protection was much better than most think. There was enough time for Beathard to make plays and find people open. They just didn't get open. That wasn't on the offensive line. They broke down only a couple times, so they weren't perfect, but it was night and day better than the week before. The presence of James Daniels and Sean Welsh had a huge difference. Those two were very, very good against the Scarlet Knights. Croston was decent. It wasn't his best showing but he was still solid and he's been steady for most of the year. I think Boettger might want this game back a little. I think he would have liked to perform better. The clear standout was Boone Myers. I did not find one error, mis-block, or mistake the entire game. He was as perfect as a lineman could be and he had some bone-crushing blocks. One spurred the touchdown run by Akrum Wadley. That was a sensational game from an offensive guard. Hats off to him. 

DEFENSIVE LINE

STANDOUT: Anthony Nelson
GRADE: B-
SUMMARY: I actually thought they were a bit better against North Dakota State which I know sounds odd since that was a terrible performance in stopping the run. I just thought they weren't nearly as bad as folks thought against the Bison. They stood up that big offensive line for much of the day and it was the big plays that gashed the defense. It was much that way again on Saturday against Rutgers with the big plays. This group was okay, but not special. They still tend to give up a little too much push from the offensive line against the run but it isn't awful. It looked like pad level could be part of the problem, at least inside. This group is kind of backwards from what I thought it would be. They aren't awful against the run, but they're better at rushing the passer. I would never have expected that. Anthony Nelson is fantastic at rushing the quarterback. Producing as much as he already is as a redshirt freshman, watch out for how many sacks he may be able to accumulate over his career in Iowa City. He didn't get any sacks against Rutgers, but Parker Hesse had two, and they were both set up by the play of Nelson. However, as a whole, this group needs to be better at getting off blocks against the run. 

LINEBACKERS

STANDOUT: Josey Jewell
GRADE: B
SUMMARY: It was a similar outing from what they put on the field against North Dakota State, except Josey Jewell went crazy and put together a goal line stand all by himself. That is some of the best linebacker play I've ever seen for one series. He had several other great plays, too, to nobody's surprise. Bo Bower is just a steady player that's always in the right spot at the right time. Folks complain about him because he's not a super athlete and doesn't come up with any huge plays, but he reads his keys well and is a very disciplined football player. He has to finish plays better, though. He missed a tackle or two but it's easy to see what the coaches like. I thought Ben Niemann played better in the previous three games. His coverage wasn't as good and he got beat a few times against the run. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

STANDOUT: Desmond King/Brandon Snyder
GRADE: B+
SUMMARY: This group probably gets a perfect grade if the whole secondary doesn't mess up the tackling in an awful way on Janarion's Grant big play where he was injured and didn't return. That was the only mistake. The form from Desmond King was far from pretty on that particular play. Take that play out and there's nothing to complain about with Greg Mabin and Desmond King. They were great in coverage. They were great in run support. There was one play where they gave up outside leverage, and it was King in the first half, but he was blatantly held but not called by the officials. Rugamba was good other than his offsides penalty that extended a Rutgers drive. That's only one mistake but came at a bad time for him. Rutgers' lone touchdown came on the touchdown pass with Josh Jackson in coverage but he played it perfectly. It just happened to be the best throw of the day for either team. 

It was the best game of the year for the safeties. They had blame in the long play from Grant but it was the best game by far for Brandon Snyder. He was exceptional, in run support and coverage. You have to hope that was his taking off point. I think it will be. He was outstanding. Miles Taylor blew one coverage but aside from that he was very good as well. Taylor was very, very aggressive in this game, much more than you usually see. I think that had to be at the encouraging of the defensive staff.

SPECIAL TEAMS

STANDOUT: Ron Coluzzi
GRADE: A+
SUMMARY: Flawless game from this group. Because of Coluzzi, Iowa rarely has to cover kicks or punts. He also flipped the field beautifully on more than one occasion with some booms for a punt. Duncan again was not needed aside from extra points and King had one great return where he took the ball out to midfield for the offense. This has been an outstanding area for Iowa this season. 

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