Kaevon Merriweather and Tory Taylor Win Big Ten Player of the Week Honors

By RossWB on September 27, 2022 at 10:03 pm
© Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Getting one Player of the Week honoree out of the Iowa-Rutgers game wouldn't have seemed too shocking -- the game was widely hailed as a showdown between two of the best punters in college football this year, so one of them showing out was firmly within the realm of reason. But getting two Player of the Week honoree out of that game? That's not what we would have expected... but it is what happened. 

First up, the expected winner: 

Saturday's game was the much-hyped PUNTAPALOOZA 2022 showdown and while there might have not been quite as much punting as many had expected before the game, there was still some very excellent punting on display -- and the best punts came courtesy of Iowa's own Tory Taylor. The Aussie icon had five punts that went for an average of 42.6 yards per kick, including a long of 51 yards. Four of his five punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, but even that undersells his excellent: those four punts were downed at Rutgers' own 4, 7, 11, and 6-yard lines. When Iowa had to punt, Taylor consistently flipped field position and pinned Rutgers deep, which made things very difficult all night long for the Scarlet Knights. 

This is the third Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week win in Taylor's career -- and quite likely not the last he'll receive. He's hit another level as a punter this season, with a combination of length and accuracy that's proving absolutely lethal for opponents. When Tory Taylor's unleashing the punts, punting really is winning. 

And then the surprise winner: 

Kaevon Merriweather was Iowa's other winner, sharing Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors with Ohio State's Tommy Eichenberg. There were plenty of players worth lauding on Iowa's defense in this game, but Merriweather is certainly a worthy recipient of this honor. He certainly had some of the biggest splash plays of the game. In addition to his three tackles and one pass break-up, he also had a pair of turnovers. His second quarter fumble return touchdown effectively blew the game open for Iowa, turning a 7-3 lead into a 14-3 winning margin. 

In the third quarter, Merriweather added another turnover with an interception. Merriweather read the play perfectly and ended up running a better route than the receiver on the play, easily scooping the ball out of the sky. 

Again, Merriweather is a very worthy winner and the two turnovers he snared (and the touchdown he scored) definitely pushed him to the head of the pack. But he was not the only Iowa defender who had an impressive game on Saturday night. He wasn't even the only Iowa defensive back that really shined. Cooper DeJean had the play of the game with his first quarter pick-six: 

But his play this week just continued the excellent run he's been on since entering the lineup this season: 

New year, new faces -- but same outstanding results from the Iowa secondary. Phil Parker is the best assistant coach Kirk Ferentz has had during his tenure at Iowa and his ability to consistently turn out some of the best defensive backs in the Big Ten over the last 20+ years has been truly remarkable. Cooper DeJean and Kaevon Merriweather look like the latest standout products of Phil Parker's Finishing School. Go get 'em, Doughboyz. 

Congrats to Taylor and Merriweather on earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors. 

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