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Not Depth Chart Monday

Big Ten midseason award thingies; Pro Football Focus stuff

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I’m sorry, this week has run me over in a lot of regards and so I’m really, really late on this.

Apologies.

The Iowa offensive line got a lot of love from Pro Football Focus today. Click on this link right here where it says PFF believes the Hawkeyes have the No. 1 offensive line in the nation.

It’s a quick read and a good breakdown. Great to see some love go toward Sean Welsh, one of Iowa’s top 5 players game-in and game-out the last two seasons. PFF also singles out Ike Boettger. I approve and here’s why: Remember, Boettger came into the season as a relatively inexperienced OL. Yes, he started last season, but he missed the final eight games with an ankle injury. So far this year, Boettger has started six games at right tackle and one at right guard. PFF has had him as one of Iowa’s top-graded OL all season.

I’ll throw you this bonus because of my tardiness. Let’s do some midseason awards. I know it’s not midseason, but it’s Big Ten midseason, so here we go.

Offensive player most fun to watch — RB Akrum Wadley

Defensive player most fun to watch — LB Josey Jewell

Offensive line MVP — OT Ike Boettger

Defensive line MVP — DT Jaleel Johnson

Most improved offensive player — WR Riley McCarron

Most improved defensive player — DE Matt Nelson

Offensive rookie of the half year (first-year starter) — C James Daniels

Defensive rookie of the half year — DE Anthony Nelson

Offensive player I want to see more of — WR Jerminic Smith

Defensive player I want to see more of — CB Manny Rugamba

Offensive player we are going to see more of — TE Noah Fant

Defensive player we are going to see more of — LB Jack Hockaday

Low-key offensive MVP — G Sean Welsh

Low-key defensive MVP — DT Nathan Bazata

Quiet contributor “oh yeah, that guy, he’s doing a good job” offense — OL Boone Myers

Quiet contributor “oh yeah, that guy, he’s doing a good job” defense — DT Faith Ekakitie

Special teams MVP — Desmond King

My favorite special teams dude to talk with — Ron Coluzzi/Tyler Kluver (tie)

Best interview T-shirt — That record label T QB C.J. Beathard wore yesterday. Want one.

Offensive MVP — RBs LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley

Defensive MVP — CB Desmond King

Coolest beard — Me

Let’s check some Pro Football Focus grades

Go to Pro Football 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).

Iowa’s run blockers ranked by PFF (starting O-line, fullbacks and TE)

1. C James Daniels

2. TE Nate Wieting

3. (tie) FB Drake Kulick and Peter Pekar

4. (tie) G Sean Welsh and T Ike Boettger

5. TE George Kittle

6. FB Brady Ross

7. TE Noah Fant

8. G Keegan Render

9. T Boone Myers

Nate Wieting? Nate Wieting. The redshirt freshman walk-on from Rockford, Ill., has been just under the depth chart all season. He’s 6-4, 225 or more and, obviously, is looking at his profile growing a bit this week with Kittle on the injury list and maybe doubtful. His performance last week was legit. He played 26 snaps, as many as Wadley did. Myers’ grade makes me wonder how long he tried to play through his injury (I think it’s an ankle). From Daniels to Welsh and Boettger, Iowa had six players post positive grades. G Keegan Render was a negative grade along with Myers. FWIW, all four backup O-linemen who played were negative grades, along with Fant.

PFF’s top pass blocker this week

Boettger edged out Render. They were Iowa’s only two positive grades in pass blocking.

Best PFF overall grades for the offense this week

1. T Ike Boettger

2. (tie) G Sean Welsh and RB Akrum Wadley

3. TE Peter Pekar

4. TE Nate Wieting

5. FB Drake Kulick

Second week in a row QB C.J. Beathard didn’t make this list. In fact, he earned his first negative grade this season and was the lowest ranked starter. He earned a neutral grade as a . . . run blocker. He was dinged for penalties. You have to hand it to Peter Pekar. Iowa hired him to block and he’s doing that good very well.

Offensive factlets

— Iowa scored 49 points this week and the only offensive skill players to earn positive grades (I’m not counting No. 2 TEs and fullbacks in this one) were Wadley and WR Riley McCarron.

— Beathard was poor against pressure last week. He was 0-for-3 on dropbacks that were pressured (NFL QB rating of 39.6. When he had time, Beathard was 10 of 15 with two TDs (a 136.1 NFL QB rating).

— Tight end and fullback were Iowa’s best running lanes this week. Fullback Drake Kulick graded well as a blocker. Those numbers were 10 rushes for 64 yards.

— I know it was Purdue, but Iowa had 204 yards of YAC in the running game.

— Wadley had 112 yards after contact. He also made four Purdue tacklers miss. LeShun Daniels had 67 yards after contact and also made four tacklers miss.

— Beathard was credited with three scrambles for 21 yards.

— Riley McCarron caught four of his five targets. Kittle caught two of his three and 28 of his 31 yards came after contact.

Iowa’s run defenders ranked by PFF (starting D-line and linebackers)

1. DE Parker Hesse

2. (tie) DT Faith Ekakitie and DE Matt Nelson

3. DT Nathan Bazata

4. LB Bo Bower

5. (tie) CB Desmond King and OLB Ben Niemann

6. DE Anthony Nelson

7. CB Greg Mabin

8. (tie) FS Brandon Snyder and SS Miles Taylor

9. LB Josey Jewell

Iowa held Purdue to 49 rushing yards and only three players scored positive grades (Hesse, Ekakitie and Nelson). Then again, Purdue wasn’t interested in running the ball. It didn’t have time after a first-half avalanche left the Boilermakers with a huge deficit.

PFF’s best against the pass

Iowa had three positive grades with ________ leading the way. You know who _______ is, don’t act like you don’t. It was King and it was a wide margin. CB Joshua Jackson and Jewell were next.

Best PFF overall grades for the defense this week

1. DE Parker Hesse

2. CB Desmond King

3. DT Faith Ekakitie

4. CB Joshua Jackson

5. LB Josey Jewell

What did Hesse do that was so great? He had an otherworldly seven QB hurries. That’s a season high for Iowa, I think. He also had three solo tackles. These five were Iowa’s only positive grades. Bower and Mabin were dinged with garbage time completions. You’re going to give those up. Save your freak out for when it matters (if it goes that way again). Same with Rugamba, who got an education. DT Cedric Lattimore got bounced around, but he’s only a true freshman. This will be good for him in the long run.

Defensive factlets

— DE Anthony Nelson and Ekakitie combined for nine QB hurries.

— In a 49-35 game, Snyder played 84 snaps. That’s a big number. I think coaches might’ve wanted him to work on positioning the secondary and communication skills.

— CB Michael Ojemudia was hit with a 37-yard TD pass that was just bad luck. He put himself in position for a pick, but the ball bounced off his shoulder pads and into the arms of a TE. It happened right in front of me. I was looking for the sinkhole.

— Anthony Nelson was tagged with a targeted pass. Iowa has been messing with some zone blitzes, so maybe one of those. Also, Nelson is 6-7 and can run, so maybe he just floated out there.

— Rugamba was targeted three times and gave up three completions. That’s education day.

— It’s OK, Jewell was targeted seven times and gave up six completions . . . for just 32 yards.

— Purdue QB David Blough threw for 458 yards and five TDs. He also received negative grades in the passing game and overall.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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