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Grading Northwestern's performance against Iowa

How many position groups earned an "F"?

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

And I thought my GPA was bad this quarter. Northwestern's report card against Iowa isn't pretty:

Offense: D

Other than another solid performance by Justin Jackson, the offense flat out stunk.

RB: B+ Jackson didn't eclipse the 100-yard mark, but he gained more yards than Trevor Siemian threw for, and was again the only bright spot for the Cats.

QB: F Siemian really struggled. He held the ball too long in the pocket--on one play the offensive line gave him plenty of time on a three-man rush, but Siemian ran right into a sack that never should have happened. And he missed some easy throws--the one that comes to mind is the tipped pass off the roll out on fourth and goal from the one-yard line in the third quarter. Siemian was not completely to blame for NU's dreadful offensive performance...

WRs: D Without Mike Mchugh's spectacular one-handed snag in the third quarter, I would have given this group an F. Siemian holds the ball so long because the wide outs can't get open. Also, Cameron Dickerson had a pivotal drop on a third and long early in the game and Kyle Prater coughed up a costly fumble.

O-line: D- Siemian was constantly hurried and sacked five times by the Iowa defensive front. While Siemian should have been much more decisive with his reads, the line didn't give him enough time. NU had some success on the ground, but Jackson had to do most of the work himself--he didn't have many holes to run through.

Defense: F+

The scoreboard says it all. Iowa is far from an offensive power, and it still put up nearly fifty points with easy. As the season wears on, it looks more and more like the stout, turnover forcing defense from the Penn State and Wisconsin games was fool's gold.

Secondary: D- Iowa QB Jake Rudock only threw the ball 19 times, but he picked apart the NU secondary. Iowa's receivers, who are not especially talented, were consistently wide open on simple patterns. Nick VanHoose was burned on a TD, and Matt Harris wasn't much better--he got beat on a corner route that should have been six.

Front Seven: D- Iowa is a physical, rushing team, but over 200 yards and four touchdowns on the ground? That's unacceptable. Iowa has a great o-line, but that's no excuse. The defensive linemen failed to create enough push/pressure and shed blockers, and the linebackers missed tackles.

Special Teams: F The special teamers struggled from the get go, handing Iowa fantastic field position on the opening kickoff. Chris Gradone averaged 39 yards per punt, which is above his average, but one of his punts was blocked and returned for a touchdown.

Coaching: F Northwestern had two weeks to prepare for Iowa and yet the Cats came out flat and played their worst game of the season. The offense had penalties that negated big plays, and constantly found itself in third and long situations, raising more play calling questions. The coaching staff failed to make any adjustments following the second half meltdown against Nebraska and continues to be too stubborn to make the substantial schematic changes this team desperately needs.

Press Box Food: C- No seconds? That's criminal.