IOWA CITY, Iowa — Without a preseason, developmental college football programs often appear inconsistent before settling down and moving forward as the season progresses.
Iowa is the epitome of a developmental program. Over the years I’ve seen this team give both brilliant and uninspired performances in Week 1 and neither gave you a good indication for the season. The Hawkeyes had a little of both on Saturday in a 45-21 win against Miami of Ohio.
Here are position-by-position grades for the Hawkeyes, on a scale from one star to five:
OFFENSE (4 stars)
Iowa’s running game was explosive with five rushing touchdowns and quarterback C.J. Beathard was nearly perfect, especially in the first half. There were a few communication issues with pass protection of which the Hawkeyes need to quickly improve, but that’s the only offensive negative.
DEFENSE (2 stars)
Josey Jewell was ejected for targeting during the first series of the game, which forced unproven Jack Hockaday in at middle linebacker. Communication was ineffective for much of the afternoon. Miami exploited senior cornerback Greg Mabin all game. Reserve defensive end Anthony Nelson had a huge performance in his first game with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
SPECIAL TEAMS (5 stars)
It was a bright day for an unproven group at Iowa. Punter Ron Coluzzi averaged 41.7 yards and drilled seven of his eight kickoffs for touchbacks. True freshman Keith Duncan hit all of his extra points and a chip-shot field goal. Desmond King broke two long returns, although one came back after Jewell’s targeting ejection.
COACHING (4 stars)
The team was ready to play. The offense was in rhythm and had crisp execution. Losing Jewell and Hesse had the defense sideways, which isn’t good. Iowa elected not to use a Raider blitz package and instead focused on nickel with a few dime groupings. That shows defensive coordinator Phil Parker is saving something for bigger games, like next week against Iowa State.
OVERALL (4 stars)
Iowa had its way with Miami in the first half, building a 35-7 lead. But it never felt dominant. Miami’s three scoring drives all exceeded 12 plays, 74 yards and almost 7 minutes. One drive is understandable, but not three. The offense’s big plays and quick scores almost hurt the defense but there are no excuses on that side of the ball. There are plenty of teachable moments for both groups that will benefit Iowa in the long run, but it won’t make for a pretty film session on Sunday.