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Outback Bowl grades: Florida defense stifles Iowa in victory

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 2: Defensive back Marcell Harris #26 of the Florida Gators and defensive back Chauncey Gardner #23 celebrate the Gators' 30-3 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes at the conclusion of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game on January 2, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Marcell Harris; Chauncey Gardner

Florida Gators 30, Iowa Hawkeyes 3

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Florida’s Outback Bowl victory over Iowa:

Florida Gators

Quarterback grade: Austin Appleby, 64.2

Austin Appleby completed just three of six attempts 10 or more yards from the line of scrimmage, as he relied heavily on the screen and run games to move the chains. When not under pressure he was fairly efficient, completing 13 of 18 throws for 216 yards, earning him a QB rating of 91.2. Under pressure he struggled, as on 10 pressured dropbacks he took three sacks and completed just one of seven passes for six yards. While he threw interceptions on both of Florida’s first two drives, they were each off a deflection and not his fault.

Top offensive grades:

C T.J. McCoy, 76.3

OT Jawaan Taylor, 75.6

RB Jordan Scarlett, 74.3

QB Austin Appleby, 64.2

WR Tyrie Cleveland, 61.3

Line shuts down Hawkeyes’ pass rush, but fails to open holes in the run game

Florida’s offensive line gave up just three hurries on the game, but had three starters with run-blocking grades under 40.0. RB Jordan Scarlett still managed 88 yards on 14 rushes, however, as he earned 67 of his yards after first contact. WR Mark Thompson had the play of the game, as he dodged five Iowa tacklers and outraced the rest of the defense to the end zone for an 85-yard score off a screen pass.


Top defensive grades:

DT Taven Bryan, 81.7

S Marcell Harris, 80.4

LB Cristian Garcia, 77.7

DT Cece Jefferson, 77.5

LB Daniel McMillian, 75.8 

Defensive line stuffs the run, provides enough pass rush to disrupt rhythm of Iowa offense

The Gators tallied 15 total pressures for the day, led by DT Taven Bryan’s hit and three hurries. He also notched three run stops, earning him the high grade of the day for Florida. The secondary allowed just seven completions while forcing three interceptions, good for a QB rating against of just 5.7.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Quarterback grade: C.J. Beathard, 57.3

As has been the case for most of the season, C.J. Beathard struggled to find receiving options open downfield. He didn’t attempt a single throw at least 20 yards downfield, and on throws between 10 and 19 yards he completed just one of nine to his team, while three were intercepted by the Gators. While he wasn’t efficient in a clean pocket, he was dreadful against pressure, completing just one of 11 throws on 12 pressured dropbacks (all three of his picks came when under pressure).


Top offensive grades:

C James Daniels, 76.7

RB Akrum Wadley, 76.4

G Sean Welsh, 69.0

TE George Kittle, 67.9

TE Peter Pekar, 60.5

Wadley wows, but can’t overcome rest of Hawkeyes offense’s woes

Don’t blame RB Akrum Wadley for Iowa’s inability to put points on the scoreboard; he earned 93 of his 115 yards after first contact, and forced an impressive nine missed tackles. In his first game action since Week 8, RT Cole Croston struggled in pass protection. He was responsible for a sack, a hit and a hurry. He gave up at least three total pressures in three of his last four games, giving up a total of four sacks, two hits and six hurries in that span.

Top defensive grades:

LB Josey Jewell, 84.2

DE Parker Hesse, 80.5

DT Jaleel Johnson, 78.2

DT Nathan Bazata, 75.4

CB Joshua Jackson, 69.1

Jewell shines in losing effort

LB Josey Jewell has been one of the best players on Iowa’s defense all season, and played very well against Florida despite his own offense continually putting the defense in tough situations. Six of his eight tackles went for stops, and he also notched a sack. DE Parker Hesse also had a strong day, as he posted two pressures, a run stop and batted a pass down at the line of scrimmage.

Tackle Lifes financial Challenges. Western Southern Financial Group.

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