The Final Exam – Iowa 27 – Boston College 20
HawkeyesMic.com – Podcasting 11 Years of Original Content on Iowa Athletics
By John Patchett (firstname.lastname@example.org) 01/04/18
The 2017 Iowa – Boston College Pinstripe Bowl is in the books. The Hawkeyes – finally – broke their bowl losing streak at five straight losses. If you’re a player or a fan or one of the coaches who has been around that long – this one felt pretty satisfying. Both teams had to overcome ridiculous horrible field conditions (the Big Ten and Yankees should be embarrassed) and pretty frigid weather. Footing was bad throughout the contest and the teams seemed to take turns slipping, sliding, and falling. We’ve had a week or so for the cheese to age (so to speak) – so it’s time to grade that final exam…
Iowa’s Offense was inconsistent and more often than not unproductive much of this season.
- Quarterback B-
- Nate Stanley wasn’t great in this game. Far from it. He completed just eight of 15 but three of those were huge: a beautifully executed play-fake eight yard TD to Noah Fant that gave Iowa a 10-7 lead at the start of the second quarter; a 32 yarder to Nick Easley that set up Akrum Wadley’s five yard rush TD; and then the icing on the cake 17 yard pass to Nate Weiting ruled down at the half yard line which was followed by Drake Kulick’s winning touchdown plunge over the goal line late in the fourth quarter.
- Running Backs B+
- Akrum Wadley returned to his home stomping grounds and lived up to the hype and then some. Iowa rushed for just 101 yards – Wadley had 88 of those and one TD. James Butler added 32 yards got in on the action too with 32 yards but perhaps most important was his “push” from behind that helped a stalled Fullback Drake Kulick power into the end zone for Iowa’s winning score near the end of the fourth quarter.
- Receivers (WR & TE) A
- Wadley was a factor receiving, too. And as was the norm this season, Iowa’s tight ends played critical roles. Noah Fant had his 11th TD catch of the season – a single season record for an Iowa TE. Weiting’s catch at the goal line was enormously important.
- Offensive Line B
- Iowa’s Offensive Line has been inconsistent all season. It struggled in the first half in this bowl game, too, but came through in the clutch. The position switches triggered by Alaric Jackson’s game suspension were a major factor in the game – forcing starting RT Tristan Wirfs to have to move to LT and Levi Paulsen to get only his second career start at RT – especially when considering the quality of BC’s defensive line.
Iowa’s Defense was burned in the first half and had trouble throughout the game slowing down BC’s passing game – especially (and primarily) the tight ends. Boston College finished the game with 383 yards of total offense – but only 102 of those came in the second half.
- Defensive Line B
- Sacks haven’t been a major factor pretty much all season – but pressure has often been a defensive key. There were only two sacks by Iowa in this game – the second was huge when Anthony Nelson had a strip-sack of the QB and the fumble was recovered by Parker Hesse. That play directly led to Iowa’s game-winning score late in the fourth quarter.
- Linebackers B
- The senior trio of Jewell, Niemann, and Bower played their last game together and, for the most part, played well – as they have pretty much all season long. They had trouble with BC’s tight ends – but watching the game it seemed like the bad footing was a significant contributing factor in that.
- Defensive Secondary B
- Iowa’s secondary was solid. Apart from BC’s tight end Tommy Sweeney’s 7 catches for 137 yards, the rest of the receivers combined for just nine catches for 71 yards (and no TDs). Two picks were big – and interceptions have been an Iowa D thing all year. Jack Gervase picked a tipped pass on the Eagles third offensive play of the game and he returned it 29 yards (setting up Iowa’s first field goal). Star DB Josh Jackson netted his 8th INT of the season near the end of the game.
Special Teams A (except Punting which gets a D-)
Once again, I’m not going to deduct points from the Special Teams play overall just because the punting continues to be the team’s Achilles Heel – so I’ve separated them out again this time.
- Place-Kicking A
- What PK Miguel Recinos did on the crappy Yankee Stadium field cannot be over-estimated. He was consistent – kickoffs and two absolutely critical field goals plus his three PATs accounted for nine of Iowa’s 27 points. As a first year starter, he’s been about everything you could ask for – perhaps more.
- Punting D-
- Colton Rastetter is just plain bad – for whatever combination of reasons. He ceretainly didn’t merit being the starting punter this season and almost certainly won’t be next year (if he is, there needs to be an investigation). This was probably the weakest point of Iowa’s entire team all season and shouldn’t be acceptable on a Power-5 football team. The only reason this grade isn’t “F” is due to Nate Stanley’s which was very good (again). The hashtag “LetStanleyPunt” actually trended on Twitter. Enough said.
- Punt Returns B
- Matt VandeBerg was solid with no problems – especially considering the weather and field conditions. He fielded just two punts but made no mistakes.
- Kickoff Return A
- Returns weren’t a factor – until – of course – Akrum Wadley’s terrific 72 yarder which setup Iowa’s first TD of the game early in the second quarter. Wadley also had a 40 yard return to start the second half. He was pretty much a one-man show when it came to all-purpose yards (171). Ihmir Smith-Marsette was suspended for this game. Wadley probably would not have fielded kickoffs but for that. And it turned out to be a huge difference-maker.
- HC Kirk Ferentz Pass+ (Pass / Fail)
- Things didn’t look great at the end of the first half – but the coaching staff made the necessary adjustments at halftime and the Hawkeyes out-scored the Eagles in the second half 17-3. He ties Hayden Fry with 143 wins (all-time winningest two head football coaches at Iowa). Credit where credit is due.
- OC Brian Ferentz B
- Brian has had his moments – good and bad – in his first season as the Hawkeyes play-caller and the same was true in this game. Some of the early play calling and sequences were – well – odd – and not productive. But as the game wore on, things worked reasonably well. All things considered, 17 second half points was pretty decent.
- DC Phil Parker A-
- Iowa had to rely on its defense in most of the games played this season – due to the offensive inconsistency and lousy punting (resulting in good field position for opponents way too many times). While the defense gave up too many yards in this game – 383 – it was the classic bend but don’t break thingy. Holding BC to a paltry three points in the final two quarters was great. 281of BC’s total yards came in the first half – the Eagles could only muster 102 yards of total offense after halftime.
Prefense Defensive Player of the Week
You can make a case for several players after this game. But I have to go with Iowa’s two consensus unanimous All-Americans Linebacker Josey Jewell and Cornerback Joshua Jackson. This was their last game as Hawkeyes – and both will almost certainly be playing on Sundays this Fall. Jewell finished with 11 tackles in this contest. Jackson had his eighth interception of the season near the end of the game to pretty much put the final nail in BC’s coffin. Jewell’s 437 career tackles are fourth all-time in Iowa history. Jackson’s eight picks ties a single season school record.
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T&K Roofing & Sheet Metal Coach of the Week
This week’s award has to go to Kirk. Iowa broke the five-game bowl losing streak. It got a much-needed win which should add momentum for what should be a pretty decent squad heading into the 2018 season. And, of course, it was his 143rd win as the Hawkeyes Head Man. That’s an amazing accomplishment – all things considered – and it’s a virtual certainty he will pass Hayden Fry in one of the first games early this Fall and will remain the “dean” of college football coaches.
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Please remember, as always, these are subjective observations and open to debate and discussion more often than not. Agree or disagree – that’s part of the fun of college football.
The final game and individual stats are below on the following pages.
Iowa – Boston College Pinstripe Bowl Content is at HawkeyesMic.com/Football.