IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa has reached the bye after eight games this season. After starting 2-0 and soaring to No. 11 in the Coaches Poll, the Hawkeyes sit 5-3 overall — 3-2 in Big Ten play — and have fallen out of the national spotlight. Iowa travels to Penn State on Nov. 5. It’s a good time to review and grade the Hawkeyes’ season to date.
With cornerback and return man Desmond King back, the special teams started the season in a position of strength. And the Jim Thorpe Award winner has done his part, helping ensure the return game has remained a strength two months into the 2016 season.
|Stats||Number||Big Ten Ranking||National Ranking|
|Kickoff return yards||27.8||2nd||7th|
|Kickoff return yards allowed||21.3||9th||75th|
|Punt return yards||10.6||3rd||31st|
|Punt return yards allowed||14.3||14th||116th|
King is fifth nationally, averaging 32.0 yards per kickoff return, and 35th nationally with a 9.2 punt return average. He’s a weapon in the return game. He can jump-start the offense or flip field position, a key trait for an offense that can struggle to find the end zone.
King has nearly taken a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in every game. His best performance was against Northwestern on Oct. 1, when he returned four punts for 77 yards and three kickoffs for 85 yards.
Punter was a question mark, but Ron Coluzzi turned it into a strength. The graduate transfer from Central Michigan is becoming nearly as key a member of the Iowa defense as linebacker Josey Jewell. His hang time is a big reason why 60.8 of his punts are fair caught.
The roles for kicker are defined, but the position is still on uncertain footing. True freshman Keith Duncan handles short kicks and is 6 of 7 on the season, but the Hawkeyes don’t routinely turn to him for field goals when outside the red zone. Sophomore Miguel Recinos is 1 of 2 from kicks beyond 40 yards.
Special Teams Grade: B
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