The Good: The Defensive Line
Iowa’s defense was somewhat inconsistent on Saturday and that was primarily due their inability to stop Nebraska’s running quarterbacks. Adrian Martinez rushed for 48 yards (I’m not counting sacks) and Luke McCaffrey ran for 42. The passing game was almost non-existent for the Huskers, as they only passed for 195 yards and zero touchdowns. It was the running game that accounted for 14 of their points and 193 yards.
The brightest spot of the defense was, once again, the defensive line. In the moments when Martinez actually tried to stay in the pocket to pass, Daviyon Nixon and Chauncey Golston were there to terrorize him. These two had a combined 12 total tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. The biggest play of the game came from Golston:
Whether or not it was a fumble or an interception, Zach VanValkenburg came up with the ball and sealed the game for the Hawkeyes. It has been a weird year for a number of reasons and this isn’t quite your typical Phil Parker defense. But the defensive line has become one of the highlights and Nixon and Golston are having seasons to remember. If Nixon keeps this up we might not see him in a Hawkeye uniform come 2021.
Honorable Mention: Tory Taylor, Seth Benson, Terry Roberts
The Bad: The Passing Game
Spencer Petras isn’t going to get singled out here because while he was, well, bad, his wide- eceivers and the offensive gameplan didn’t help. Last week we talked about what would happen if a team sold out for the run and forced Petras to beat them. This was the result. The good news is that Nebraska’s defense is bad and even though they crowded the box, they still couldn’t capitalize on Petras’s struggles.
So, about those struggles:
There’s not a lot to say about that throw. Or this one:
360 spin in the pocket right to Dicaprio Bootle— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 27, 2020
Now, there were some drops on Friday. There were some passes that, while low, should have been caught. There’s the argument that maybe Nico Ragaini should’ve caught that touchdown pass. There’s this, too:
Well at least one guy ran past the first down marker! pic.twitter.com/eQIVXyUw2I— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) November 27, 2020
So yeah, there’s dropped passes and terrible plays.
All that out of the way: Spencer Petras hasn’t shown any sort of improvement and there are only two games left in the regular season. His passes are either too high, too low, behind the wide receiver, or thrown too hard. Shaun Beyer had to make that insane one-handed catch because it was such a bad throw. He stares down wide receivers and makes terrible decisions when he’s under pressure. Even dismissing the generalized complaints about his accuracy, every single ball he throws is a fastball. Iowa keeps winning so Petras will continue to be given leeway but the day will come when the Hawkeyes need him to win a football game. If he keeps this up, he isn’t winning that football game.
The Ugly: Whatever Scott Frost is Doing
In our Slack channel, someone asked why Scott Frost kept rotating his quarterbacks because as the cliché goes, “if you have two quarterbacks you have none.” My response was simple: because Scott Frost is a bad football coach.
UCF had one miraculous season under Frost in the two years that he was there. The season before that he went 6-7. He has no other head coaching experience. In three seasons at Nebraska he’s 10-19 (7-16) and has yet to beat a ranked opponent. He never takes any responsibility, instead blaming his players after the loss to Illinois:
Nebraska coach Scott Frost: "I didn't really see this coming... I was embarrassed by our level of execution in all three phases.— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) November 21, 2020
"It was almost like our team thought, 'We won one game, we're good.'"
So of course, after the loss to Iowa, he blamed his center’s snapping woes on Iowa coaches clapping and Ferentz, understandably, thought it was horseshit. Ross covered the whole thing here so I won’t regurgitate but I wanted to stress this video:
Here's Kirk Ferentz's full response to #ClapGate in his postgame presser which also involves 'Storytime with Kirk'— Mike OBrien (@mobrientv) November 27, 2020
What the hell are we talking about? Like its stupid, right?
Next thing you know, were going to be treating this like golf https://t.co/xKASADT5MQ pic.twitter.com/u73VYvEgLu
Ferentz has been around a long time so there’s a lot you can fault him for, especially considering the allegations of racial discrimination under his watch. One thing I won’t fault him for is his absolute disdain for the type of football coach Scott Frost is. The new age, rah-rah, Row the Boat bullshit coach with a culture that is actually just gimmicks, social media hashtags and paper tigers. Ferentz has dealt with them in the past (Beckman, Brewster) and has to deal with them now (Fleck, Frost, Campbell). They never last.
One thing Ross didn’t talk about was that whining about clapping is actually a Nebraska throwback. Following their 27-22 loss at Michigan State in 2014, Bo Pelini told reporters:
"There were a couple times when the opposing team clapped," Pelini said. "And our center heard a clap and so he snapped the football."
Hear that, Scott? You’re in the same company as Bo Pelini, now. You should be so proud.