Grading Iowa football’s 7-3 win over South Dakota State

Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson provides a three-phase grade of the Hawkeyes’ season-opener against the Jackrabbits.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz walks down the sideline during a football game between Iowa and South Dakota State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Jackrabbits, 7-3.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

The Iowa football team won its first game of the 2022 season Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes didn’t score a touchdown, but still beat the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 7-3. Following the Hawkeyes’ win, Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson graded their performance in all three phases.

Offense — F

This is hardly the first time I’ve written words about the Hawkeyes’ offense since Saturday. And I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve read about its subpar performance.

Much has been said of senior quarterback Spencer Petras and his 11-of-25, 109-yard, one-interception performance. But the blame for the Hawkeyes’ woes aren’t squarely on his shoulders. Petras’ offensive line struggled to protect him throughout the game, as he was sacked twice, hit two other times, and had two passes batted down by defensive linemen.

The Hawkeyes’ play calling was also relatively uninspired. Iowa’s longest play of the game was a 27-yard completion to sophomore wideout Arland Bruce. Obviously, Petras missed some open receivers downfield, but he also wasn’t given very many chances to throw the ball deep. Quite a few of the plays Brian Ferentz called were bubble screens or involved swing passes out to a tight end.

The Hawkeyes tried to sell how much they had worked to improve their offense during the offseason. But I won’t be a buyer until I see them make some progress on the field on Saturdays.

Defense — A+

Not often does one unit almost single-handedly propel a team to victory, but Iowa’s defense did just that on Saturday. 

The Hawkeyes’ front seven alone outscored the Jackrabbits’ offense, 4-3. Iowa’s two safeties, scored by defensive lineman Joe Evans and linebacker Jack Campbell, were even good enough to outproduce the Hawkeyes’ offense, 4-3.

On top of its scoring effort, Iowa’s defense held the South Dakota State to 156 yards of total offense — 87 passing, 69 rushing. Only eight of the Jackrabbits’ 57 offensive plays were run in Iowa territory.

Kudos to the Hawkeyes’ defense. It’ll be exciting to see if they can keep this kind of dominance up against the Power Five teams on its schedule.

Special teams — B+

If I could grade junior punter Tory Taylor’s individual performance, I’d give him in A+. He and Iowa’s punt team were magnificent on Saturday, downing seven of 10 punts inside the 20-yard line.

The only reason I knock the Hawkeyes’ special teams performance down a peg is because sophomore kicker Aaron Blom missed a 40-yard field goal. In his defense, it was his very first kick of the season. He also rebounded later in the game with a make from 46 yards out.

The reason I scrutinize Blom’s miss so harshly is because he can’t afford many more misses from that distance this season. If Saturday’s performance is any indication, Iowa’s offense isn’t going to have many scoring opportunities this season, so Blom will need to cash in when he can.

Individually, I’d give Blom and Taylor a C+ and an A+, respectively. So, I think B+ is a fair aggregate total.