Report card: How did Iowa shape up against Northern Illinois?

The grades are in. Iowa defeated Northern Illinois in its season opener on Saturday, but how well did the Hawkeyes offense, defense, and special teams perform?


Lily Smith

Iowa's Ivory Kelly-Martin sheds a tackle from NIU's Kyle Pugh during the Iowa/NIU football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 33-7.

Offense: C+

Iowa’s offense got on track in the second half, but the first-half performance dragged the grade down. Iowa totaled just 148 yards in the first half, only 2 more yards than Northern Illinois.

In the second half, Iowa gained 204 yards, 84 on the ground from Toren Young, who exploded on the scene in the third quarter. Young’s burst sparked Iowa offensively.

Defense: A-

Iowa would have been in serious trouble if the defense hadn’t stepped up. The Hawkeyes held the Huskies scoreless for most of the game, until they gave up a garbage-time touchdown.

One thing worth noting: Iowa’s defense held Northern Illinois to minus-2 yards in the third quarter. The pass rush was on its A-game that quarter, too, recording 3 of its 5 sacks.

Special Teams: A-

Colten Rastetter had himself an outing, averaging 53.8 yards per punt, including a nice 69-yard boot. Kicker Miguel Recinos made his only field-goal attempt, a 33-yarder, to put his field-goal percentage at 100 for the season.

Along with Rastetter’s effective leg, the return game was a pleasant surprise. Ihmir Smith-Marsette didn’t see a ton of action on kickoff returns (he only had one return), but he was effective, taking that one 27 yards to start the game.

But above all, Kyle Groeneweg looked sharp on punt returns. He gained 42 yards on his 5 returns; averaged 8 yards per return, and also had a 12-yard return as his best.

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