The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly 2020: Wisconsin

By Mike Jones on December 14, 2020 at 1:00 pm
go hawks go
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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The Good: Second Half Petras, ISM, Jack Campbell, Rushing Attack

Boy, I do not know what Spencer Petras does at halftime but whatever it is, it works. First half Petras is like a bad trip where every pass is a journey in itself. The ball is either overthrown, underthrown or thrown too hard. There was a play in the first quarter where Petras dropped back, panicked, and threw the ball approximately 10 yards out of bounds. The thing was: it didn’t even look like he was throwing the ball away. It looked like he was attempting to throw to a wide receiver who wasn’t there and the ball got away from him. I mean…really got away from him.

I think it was in the second quarter when Petras threw a ball behind either Beyer or LaPorta and Pat tweeted something to the effect of “Does Spencer Petras even know the routes his receivers are running?” This was a legitimate question because honestly, there were a handful of passes in this game where it looked like Petras wasn’t exactly sure what play he was running. It’s one thing to routinely play poorly. It’s another to not even know the playbook.

And then came the second half. A trend we’ve seen in previous weeks is that Petras plays bad and as the game progresses, he gets better. Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 2:

Yes, I realize these were designed first-read plays. Petras didn’t really have to make any decisions here. He just dropped back and threw the ball. But it’s encouraging to see the passes where they needed to be. Petras was 10/17 for 87 yards and no touchdowns at halftime. He finished 14/25 for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, his completion percentage actually dropped, but since he was completing long passes his rating went from 101 to 153. If second half Spencer Petras ever becomes full game Spencer Petras, Iowa is going to be a complete football team.

As you saw above, Ihmir Smith-Marsette had himself a game. Seven receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns is why he was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. We don’t know what his status is following his botched landing in the end zone but we’ll hope for the best for “Champions Week” because he’s a superstar and it’s nice that he’s going out on top.

Iowa’s defensive line had yet another impressive game but it was Jack Campbell who was really the game changer on Saturday. His read on this play was a thing of beauty:

In the fourth quarter things looked like they were about to go sideways for the Hawkeyes. After Tory Taylor punted a ball like 40 yards off of the ground, a move that was both awesome and apparently illegal, the Badgers started their drive at the Iowa 5-yard line. Suddenly, the 21-7 lead didn’t look so safe and should the Badgers score, Hawkeye fans would start having flashbacks about…well…any game against Wisconsin. Then, the Hawkeye defense held strong for three plays and on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Graham Mertz scrambled and threw an ill-advised pass right into the hands of Jack Campbell. Instead of making it interesting, the Badgers came away with zero points.

And on the very next play, Tyler Goodson put the game on ice with a beautiful 80-yard touchdown run. Iowa’s rushing attack has been solid all year and I think Sargent is having a stellar senior season. He’s been decisive, forceful and earning every yard. Goodson, of course, is your playmaker and while he’s looked a bit apprehensive at times this fall, he can change the dynamic of a football game in less than a minute:

What’s more impressive: that run or Tyler Linderbaum running with him? 

The Bad: Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman

Did these guys just show up and wing it? Did they even read the pronunciation guide? Were they about to fight in the booth? Boo.

The Ugly: None

I mean, ISM hurting himself was ugly but he says he’s fine and hopefully it was just a mild sprain. Iowa brought home the Heartland Trophy for the first time since 2015 and gets Michigan under the lights for Champions Week. What’s there to be mad about?

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