The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Grading Iowa football after 26-16 win over Michigan State

While the Hawkeyes special teams deserved an A+ for their stellar performance, the offense lagged behind with a C with regards to passing.
Grace Smith
Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz reacts to a play during a football game between Iowa and Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 26-16. Ferentz met his performance objective of scoring more than 25 points in a game. His performance objective states he must average 25 points per game.

Passing Offense: C

Even though Iowa starting quarterback Cade McNamara missed practically this entire contest due to his injury, his absence does not excuse that Iowa’s passing offense remained a work in progress. With Deacon Hill under center, the Hawkeyes dropped six passes and only mustered 115 yards through the air. In addition, Hill telegraphed a pass for an interception and made other mistakes reflective of his lack of experience at the collegiate level.

Rushing Offense: C –

One would think that with a backup quarterback in the game, against a rather average defensive line, the Hawkeye ground game would have a day. Alas, such was not the case, as Iowa running backs Kamari Moulton, Leshon Willams, and Terrell Washington Jr. combined for a grand total of 66 yards on 22 carries. This grade would have been slightly better, but Williams’ costly fumble to start the second half kept this mark in the minus category.

Passing Defense: A

Iowa’s secondary had themselves a field day on Saturday, intercepting Spartan QB Noah Kim three times on the day and breaking up multiple passes. I will admit, I was a little weary when Michigan State drove the ball upfield at the end of the first half with consecutive completions, but the Hawkeyes’ defensive backs proved me wrong.

Rushing Defense: A-

The Hawkeyes’ relatively contained Spartan running back Nathan Carter, as the Connecticut transfer ran for 110 yards on 20 carries, good enough for 5.4 yards per attempt. As for the quarterback sneak, however, the Iowa “D” let Kim scramble for more than 10 yards on multiple occasions. However, linebacker Nick Jackson’s forced fumble late in the game kept this mark an A.

Special Teams: A+

I don’t even half to split this up in terms of punting and kicking, as both units dominated this entire game. Punter Tory Taylor had himself a typical Saturday, averaging 48 yards per punt, including a long of 60. Yet it was Hawkeye kicker Drew Stevens who really stole the show, as the sophomore was perfect on extra points and field goals, including a 53-yarder to bring the Hawkeyes within three. And do I have to even Cooper DeJean at this point? Enough said.

Coaching: B

It’s honestly difficult to provide a full, accurate grade of the coaching staff, but in spite of the 26 points, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz doesn’t really have anything to write home about. The offensive line looked improved from last week’s showing while their defensive counterparts couldn’t generate any sacks on Saturday. If Iowa had gone for it on fourth-and-one late in the game instead of kicking the field goal, I would’ve been shocked, but nevertheless, the Hawkeye coaching staff led a conservative, albeit successful game plan that had to be adjusted quickly after McNamara’s injury.

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.