Hey, a normal Monday, some PFF grades and the Hawkeyes' second-to-last game vs. FCS
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (67) sacks Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Joel Lanning (7) during the first quarter of their Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
IOWA CITY — Sophomore center James Daniels wasn’t on the depth chart released Monday by Iowa. That probably means he will be out for this weekend’s North Dakota State game.
Daniels suffered a knee injury in practice last Wednesday. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in the Iowa State postgame that Daniels, the younger brother of Iowa running back LeShun Daniels, wanted to play, but added “that was out of the question.” Ferentz also said James Daniels would probably be a “week out” and declared his status “day to day.”
Sophomore Lucas LeGrand replaced Daniels and made his first start. He’s listed No. 1 this week, with senior Steve Ferentz listed as the backup.
Defensive end Parker Hesse, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, is listed as a co-starter at defensive end. Guard Sean Welsh missed 17 snaps with the starters after suffering a minor ankle sprain in the first half. He returned and played a few more series and is listed as the starter. Sophomore Keegan Render replaced him and is the backup.
Running back Akrum Wadley said after the game that he is nursing a sore knee. He rushed nine times for 49 yards and a TD and caught a 26-yard TD pass.
Redshirt freshman Brett Waechter was listed as the No. 2 left tackle for the Miami (Ohio) game and played some snaps in the opener. He didn’t play against Iowa State and wasn’t listed on Monday’s depth chart.
The No. 11 Hawkeyes (2-0) have won nine consecutive games at Kinnick Stadium, the third-longest home-winning streak in the country (Florida State has the longest at 22). That will be a pretty big motivation for North Dakota State this Saturday.
The Bison (2-0) are ranked No. 1 in FCS and are going for their sixth consecutive FCS national championship. Beyond that, North Dakota State has won its last five games against FBS teams. All were played on the road.
FCS schools are allowed 63 scholarships compared to 85 for FBS schools. The Bison, coached by Waterloo native and former Northern Iowa all-American defensive back Chris Klieman, clearly have this down.
The Bison have started the season with overtime victories over top-10 FCS teams, including last week’s 50-44 scorcher over No. 8 Eastern Washington.
As it stands right now, this will be Iowa’s second-to-last non-conference game against an FCS school. The Big Ten put out a scheduling guideline for the league in 2015 that doesn’t allow for further scheduling of FCS opponents. Iowa has Northern Iowa on the schedule for 2018 for what looks to be the last time.
Offensive personnel groups
11 (one back, one tight end, three WRs) — 11 rushes for 95 yards and a TD; 6 of 10 passes for 34 yards and a TD
11 shotgun — 3 rushes for 27 yards; 8 of 13 for 83 yards and a TD
21 (running back, fullback, one TE, two WR) — 4 runs for 31 yards; 3 of 3 for 82 yards and a TD
22 (two backs, two TEs) — 11 runs for 49 yards
12 (one back, two TEs) — 4 rushes for 23 yards; 2 of 3 for 22 yards passing
23 (two backs, three TEs) — 2 rushes for 4 yards and two TDs
Let’s check some Pro Football Focus grades
Go to Pro Footbal Focus and totally dig into that site. Learn about football. Get smarter. Win arguments. That’s the whole point of what they do and what I try to do (sometimes not as great as others).
PFF sometimes does posts about grades from Iowa games. There’s one this week right here.
Here’s some stuff that jumped out to me.
Iowa’s run blockers ranked by PFF (starting O-line, fullbacks and TE):
1. TE George Kittle
2. G Sean Welsh
3. OT Ike Boettger
4. FB Brady Ross
5. FB Drake Kulick
6. OT Cole Croston
7. G Boone Myers
8. C Lucas LeGrand
Myers and LeGrand had negative numbers. Fullbacks had a much smaller snap shot, with Kulick seeing nine plays and Ross seven. The starting OL and Kittle played 61 snaps. Welsh, who left the game with a minor ankle sprain, played 44 snaps.
PFF’s top pass blocker this week
Left tackle Cole Croston was Iowa’s highest-graded pass blocker for the second straight week. LeGrand was the lowest-graded. I thought he held up well, especially against blitzes.
Best PFF grades for the offense this week
1. QB C.J. Beathard
2. WR Matt VandeBerg
3. G Sean Welsh
4. RB Akrum Wadley
5. TE George Kittle
Last week, it was Beathard and Kittle tied with Croston third.
— Outside zone behind Kittle was the play of the day for the running game. RB LeShun Daniels rushed three times for 54 yards, including his 43-yard TD.
— With a new center and with Welsh in and out with an ankle injury, the inside zone wasn’t as successful. Iowa tried 13 carries in the A gap and gained 46 yards (3.53 per carry). It worked enough to keep ISU’s front honest.
— VandeBerg had 10 targets, caught seven and 51 of his 129 receiving yards came after the catch. This season, VandeBerg has caught 11 of his 16 targets and has 129 yards in YAC.
Iowa’s run defenders ranked by PFF (starting D-line and linebackers):
1. DT Jaleel Johnson
2. DT Nathan Bazata
3. LB Josey Jewell
4. DE Anthony Nelson
5. WLB Bo Bower
6. OLB Ben Niemann
7. DE Matt Nelson
Johnson was tough on himself for his performance against Miami (Ohio). He graded as Iowa’s top run defender this week. Bazata might’ve had his best week as a Hawkeye. Jewell also was a plus. Matt Nelson had Iowa’s only negative number in run defense.
Best PFF grades for the defense this week
1. DT Nathan Bazata
2. DT Jaleel Johnson
3. DE Anthony Nelson
4. CB Desmond King
5. OLB Ben Niemann
Last week, it went Anthony Nelson, Bazata and Niemann.
— WLB Bo Bower was targeted six times in the passing game, according to PFF. ISU completed five of those for 51 yards. He was Iowa’s lowest-graded in coverage by PFF. His week was similar to CB Greg Mabin’s last week. After giving up seven completions vs. Miami, Mabin was targeted five times and allowed two completions for 44 yards.
— Here’s how King has been targeted the last two weeks: vs. Miami 3 of 3 for 28 yards; vs. ISU 2 of 3 for 11 yards. Teams aren’t totally avoiding him, but with a Thorpe Award and eight INTs on the resume, teams aren’t dialing him up very much.
— The Hawkeyes were credited for 11 QB hurries. Anthony Nelson had five and Bazata added three.
— ISU WR Allen Lazard was targeted 13 times. He caught 7 for 111 yards and 50 YAC yards. Lazard was ISU’s only offensive starter who had a positive grade from PFF.
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