Grading the Iowa football team’s performance against Purdue

The offense moved the ball but only scored 20 points, and the defense had no answer for David Bell.


Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Spor

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) runs the ball while Purdue Boilermakers safety Jalen Graham (6) defends in the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 at Ross-Ade Stadium. in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The Iowa football team left a lot to be desired in its season-opening, 24-20, loss to Purdue in West Lafayette.

Here’s how the DI graded the team’s performance.

 Offense — C+

Spencer Petras and company put up a lot of yards — but not a lot of points.

Iowa tallied 460 yards of total offense, 265 passing and 195 rushing yards, but could only muster 20 points. Petras was inconsistent, missing open targets and at times not throwing to open receivers underneath. The ground game looked good for the Hawkeyes, perhaps even better than it did for most of last season. But two costly fumbles brings the offense’s grade down.

It’s also inexcusable that Ihmir Smith-Marsette didn’t catch a single pass. Brandon Smith wasn’t utilized heavily either. Tyler Goodson didn’t have a touch in the fourth quarter — although that in part can be attributed to Iowa not having the ball much. Whenever he did touch the ball, the sophomore running back made plays happen. Goodson ran for 77 yards and also contributed 59 receiving yards. Iowa has a ton of weapons, the team just has to use them.

Defense — C

Allowing 24 points on the road in the Big Ten isn’t necessarily a terrible performance, but Iowa’s defense had no answer for David Bell and that ended up costing the team. Bell’s third touchdown of the night ended up being the game winner, and he was wide open in the back of the end zone.

A.J. Epenesa’s absence was also noticeable. Daviyon Nixon is probably Iowa’s defensive MVP from Week 1. The starting defensive tackle was in on a sack with Noah Shannon and finished with 2.5 tackles for loss. Nixon was disruptive all day, which Iowa needed, especially with starter Austin Schulte out. Nixon even tackled Bell on a screen pass. Another lineman up front needs to step up and get pressure on the opposing team’s starting quarterback.

RELATED: Iowa secondary burned by Purdue WR David Bell for second year in a row

Special teams — A

Lots of positives from the special teams units against Purdue. Tory Taylor may have been the highlight of Iowa’s loss. The freshman had a memorable, averaging 44.2 yards on six punts, including a long of 52, and downing two inside Purdue’s 20.

Keith Duncan was, as expected, reliable whenever Iowa called upon him. The Big Ten Network All-Decade performer nailed both of his field goal attempts and extra points.

There wasn’t a lot out of the kickoff return game on Saturday, but Charlie Jones looked promising as Iowa’s punt returner. Jones seems to have a handle on the position. The Buffalo transfer returned a punt for 25 yards against the Boilermakers.

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