Iowa's lopsided win over Minnesota on Saturday produced a lot of big numbers and good performances, a few of which were honored by the Big Ten conference in their weekly awards today. One of them was not too surprising:
Anthony Nelson was a certified terrormonster on Saturday and Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad is likely to be having nightmares of Nelson bearing down on him for quite a while. Here's a refresher on Nelson's dominant day:
We've been ooh-ing and aah-ing over Iowa's other terrormonster defensive end this season (understandably so), but this performance was a great reminder that A.J. Epenesa isn't the only terrifying pass rusher that Iowa has in its defensive line arsenal. Nelson had a somewhat quiet start to the season -- he had just two sacks before Saturday's breakout showing (one against Northern Illinois and one against Wisconsin). With five sacks on the year he's now tied with Minnesota's Carter Coughlin for the most in the Big Ten. Epenesa, Nelson, and Parker Hesse give Iowa a trio of very good defensive ends and one of the most formidable pass rushing units in the nation. Let's hope they can keep terrorizing Big Ten quarterbacks for the rest of the season (especially with Iowa dealing with so many injuries in the back seven).
The other Player of the Week honoree was a little more surprising -- Riley Moss earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors:
Moss had seen limited action in the season's first four games, but got thrust into a starting role against Minnesota due to injuries to regular starters Matt Hankins and Michael Ojemudia (alongside fellow true freshman Julius Brents). And, to be sure, it was a day of highs and lows for Moss. He was targeted early and often by Minnesota and gave up several completions and at least one touchdown -- those were definite lows. But he got better as the game progressed and ended up with five tackles (four solo) and two interceptions.
His first interception came late in the first half, when Iowa had a 28-10 lead but Minnesota was driving. His second interception came with Iowa up 38-24 early in the fourth quarter. His 36-yard return set Iowa up at the 9-yard line. A field goal a few plays later gave Iowa an insurmountable 41-24 lead. Moss' performance had some bumps on Saturday, but we also got some glimpses of just why the Iowa coaches have been high on him all season (the ball skills he showed on the first interception were particularly good). We look forward to seeing how he continues to develop.
Congratulations to Nelson and Moss on the weekly honors.