SUMMARY: There wasn't a whole lot for Beathard to do with all the pressure he was under and there weren't a lot of opportunities out there. He did deliver some nice passes under duress downfield in the second quarter to Jay Scheel, Jerminic Smith, and a couple to Riley McCarron. Outside of that stretch, he wasn't nearly as impactful as he needed to be. Some of that was due to the lack of protection up front, some of that was the lack of communication between he and his wideouts, and some was due to his inability to escape the pocket and create. All in all, he wasn't dreadful in the way he played but he didn't provide nearly enough either when the Hawkeyes needed it the most. 31 points is a good enough performance from the offense but they got a lot of help from Desmond King in the return game which set up a few different scores. Despite putting up over 30 points, Iowa still accumulated less than 300 total yards.
SUMMARY: Despite three touchdowns on the ground between Daniels and Wadley, they didn't accomplish enough. Wadley averaged less than three yards a carry and Daniels only netted 72 yards on 17 carries. Wadley did save a couple more sacks and Daniels ran hard, but they also missed opportunities. Either Daniels hit the wrong hole a few times or Brady Ross was lost on what gap to hit. There were a few times where fullback Ross hit the gap left of the center and Daniels instead went right into an unblocked Anthony Walker. That was a pretty alarming sight to see. Daniels also had a couple long runs negated by shoestring tackle. That can be a good play by the defense but that's also something LeShun needs to pick up. The offensive line did them little favors but they didn't exactly overcome them with a strong performance themselves.
STANDOUT: Riley McCarron
SUMMARY: This group actually wasn't bad. They did miss a few blocks on the perimeter run plays that prevented the play from getting any kind of yardage but as receivers they seemed up to the challenge. You'd like to see them get open a little bit more than they did but that is a work in progress. I thought it was a step forward for the receivers compared to their week four performance against Rutgers. When the ball was thrown up by Beathard, they went up and made the play, especially in the second quarter. The pass protection didn't allow them to make a ton of plays, but they cashed in when they could for the most part. Jerminic Smith had a good game aside from the drop in the fourth quarter. Yes, it was a hot pass to handle off his fingertips, but that was the only way that ball could get there. The safety was closing in over the top preventing Beathard from putting any more air underneath it. Scheel delivered on a few of his chances. McCarron had a nice touchdown grab. I thought this was the best position group on offense actually but consistency in getting open is still a bit of an issue. Depth is also an issue, still.
SUMMARY: George Kittle was not as good as usual in the blocking department and he dropped a catchable pass in the second half that could have been a big play and extended a key drive for Iowa. He did haul in a nice reception in the final drive before Beathard threw the game-ending interception along the right sideline. He still delivered some nice blocks on the day but was wildly inconsistent. Pekar didn't get a ton of snaps but was okay. Noah Fant got in on the first possession of the game and then was never seen on the field again which was odd.
STANDOUT: Sean Welsh
SUMMARY: This position group relapsed back to the mess that was the North Dakota State game. Boone Myers was amazing against Rutgers but didn't come close to that level of performance against Northwestern. James Daniels is a heck of a player but I didn't see it on Saturday. He's been brilliant in just about every game I've seen him play. That was until Saturday where he committed a lot of errors, and lost a lot of battles. He's so talented that I expect that to just be a blip on the radar for him. He doesn't have the instincts and awareness yet that Austin Blythe possessed but he makes up for a lot of it with raw talent and athleticism. Give him another year or two and he'll be a monster. Boettger has struggled this year but he wasn't bad against Northwestern. However, he wasn't good either. It was probably Cole Croston's worst game of the season so far. I don't expect that to continue from him either. He's been the most consistent lineman for the Hawkeyes this season. This was his first poor performance and he got beat with quickness off the line most of the time. For some reason this offensive line was slow in making the pulling plays on the perimeter runs. They weren't getting to the edge in time and getting beat by the linebacker who would blow up the play with ease. They also hurt themselves as a group with silly penalties again, with the false start calls and the holding penalties and the hands to the face. That shot a few drives in the foot. The fewest mistakes definitely came from Sean Welsh. He played a pretty good game but as a group they struggled mightily.
STANDOUT: Jaleel Johnson
SUMMARY: This group really lacks the combination of quickness and strength on the line in terms of stopping the run. They had that a year ago with Nate Meier who was a rare player in that he could rush the passer but could also stuff the run despite his lack of size. He'd also chase down edge runs nicely and stretch perimeter runs out enough because of how athletic that was. I don't think I picked up on that until I see them struggling to do so this season. Matt Nelson and Parker Hesse just don't have that lateral athleticism or quickness. Nelson is strong but struggles to get moving towards the sideline. Hesse also seems a little bit more plodding this season. That's putting a lot more ownership and responsibility on the tackles. Jaleel Johnson played very well against Northwestern despite his penalty that made it a 30-yard advance by the Wildcats without snapping a ball. Nathan Bazata has played better. He's not a penetrator, but he is a space eater, fundamentally sound, and disciplined player that rarely gets moved off the ball. He did on Saturday. There was next to no pass rush for the first time this season as well. Anthony Nelson was kept quiet.
STANDOUT: Josey Jewell
SUMMARY: Jewell was fantastic again. He missed a tackle himself but gobbled up just about everything else. Sometimes he gets caught too but he's also trying to make up for the lack of deficiencies elsewhere. He needs to be careful of trying to do too much at some point and forgetting to secure his own responsibilities. Ben Niemann about had an interception and that was a ball they sorely needed. For the most part, he was in coverage on the day. There were a few plays he didn't leverage the ball well enough but no huge or glaring mistakes from him. Bower had a few missed tackles again and was caught in the wrong spot once. The defense only did surrender 362 yards of offense so the Wildcats should have never gotten to 38 points. But they let the big plays plague them once again, and they had great field position a couple of times. The little things continue to creep up on Iowa
STANDOUT: Desmond King
SUMMARY: The safeties were not very good at all but the cornerbacks were pretty good again. Desmond King played a marvelous game. Greg Mabin was pretty good outside of the touchdown that he gave up where he got beat on the hitch. That was his lone crucial mistake. That's a mistake that can't happen but he played fantastic outside of that play. The safeties missed a lot of tackles. Miles Taylor probably played his worst game of the year and he's been missing tackles all year unfortunately. Brandon Snyder played a pretty good first quarter and most of the second quarter. Then the wheels fell off and he relapsed. He has a bad habit of not wrapping up when he comes down for the big hit and that's the cause of a lot of his gaffes in the tackling game. He also had a couple mistakes in pass coverage, including the play he panicked and was called for pass interference.
The cornerbacks save the grade from being far worse.
STANDOUT: Desmond King
SUMMARY: The kickoffs from Coluzzi was great. Duncan connected on his one and only field goal. The punts from Coluzzi took a step back. But Desmond King and Riley McCarron were dynamite in the return game and there's probably much more points on the board than there should have been because of those two. Northwestern couldn't prevent a long return to save their behinds. Without that, this game could have likely become pretty lopsided.