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’s performance against Purdue

While the Hawkeyes had quite the day on defense with six sacks and 12 tackles for loss, the offense lagged behind in production.
Iowa tight end Erick All scores a touchdown during the Iowa homecoming football game between Iowa and Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 20-14.

Rushing offense: A- 

Iowa’s run game drastically improved from last week’s game against Michigan State in which Hawkeye rushers combined for 66 total yards on 22 carries. In Saturday’s contest against the Boilermakers, Iowa ran for 181 yards on 35 carries, with 134 of those yards coming from sophomore Kaleb Johnson in his first game back from an ankle injury. Getting Johnson back in the mix obviously helped, but there is still much to work on in Iowa’s run game. The Hawkeye offense had 8 drives where they gained less than 10 yards, including three drives with negative yardage gained. The Iowa run game was less effective in the second half, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry compared to 8.5 yards in the first half. Iowa needs a complete, consistent rushing attack against Wisconsin next week to leave Madison with a win. 

Passing offense: D+ 

The fact that quarterback Deacon Hill managed to hit the century mark in his passing yards was the only reason this mark wasn’t deemed a failure. On his five connections with tight end Erick All, the Wisconsin transfer made some decent throws on tight windows. All even said ‘Sneakin Deacon’ hit him “right on the money” multiple times. Hill technically threw an interception, but that pick was more on wideout Seth Anderson than the quarterback. At the end of the day, limiting turnovers is an essential goal, and Hill did just that, but having a completion percentage of 29 percent is absolutely nothing to write home about. The Hawkeyes will hope that all those overthrows were just first-game jitters and nothing more, because if not, Iowa running backs will spend a lot of time recovering on Sundays. 

Rushing Defense: A 

The Hawkeye defensive line set up shop in the Boilermaker backfield on Saturday, piling up 12 tackles for loss and limited Tyrone Tracy Jr. and Co. to 110 total yards and 2.8 yards per carry. Tracy Jr. was averaging more than six yards per attempt heading into the contest, but was more than contained by the Hawkeyes, scampering for eight yards on four attempts. Instead of Tracy Jr., fellow back Devin Mockobee did most of the heavy lifting, gaining 93 yards on 20 carries. Even still, the Hawkeyes’ longest run given up was just 13 yards to Dylan Downing. 

Passing Defense: A 

Coming into the contest with just three sacks over five games, the Hawkeye defensive line flipped the script against the Boilermakers, exploding for six sacks and constantly pressuring Hudson Card. Such pressure contributed to Iowa’s two interceptions on the day. The Hawkeye secondary also avoided letting up the big plays, conceding just one pass of over 30 yards. The one area of concern for Iowa is the yards after the catch, as the Boilermakers’ top four pass-catchers on Saturday averaged 35.25 yards after their grabs. This stat reveals issues in both tackling and coverage for coordinator Phil Parker and Co., but isn’t a problem the unit can’t solve. 

Special Teams: B- 

Iowa punter Tory Taylor had himself a nonchalant Saturday, averaging 40 yards per punt and downing two inside the 20-yard line, but didn’t have any boots that really turned heads. Kicker Drew Stevens had a mixed performance, missing badly on a 44-yard, and having his 49-yard offering rejected, but also nailing two attempts from inside the 30. A field goal block is never entirely on a kicker, but missing inside 45 yards can be costly, especially when the Hawkeyes don’t get to the red zone as often as they would like. 

Coaching: B- 

Opting to kick a field goal on fourth-and-two to extend the Hawkeyes’ lead to 10-0 in the second quarter was probably the right choice for head coach Kirk Ferentz, as later in the game, the Iowa offense couldn’t gain the two yards it needed to seal the game on its penultimate drive in the fourth quarter. I’m genuinely surprised by the absence of QB sneaks in this contest, but perhaps fans will get a glimpse of those later in the season. If anything, I’m more surprised, and concerned, with the repetitive playcalling in the second half. Running the ball more than three times as much as throwing might eat clock, but isn’t something to rely on when the offense is prone to a three-and-out. Such predictability might hurt Iowa later on in the season.

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About the Contributor
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