As the disappointment still lingers from a crushing finish to the 2022 regular season in Iowa City, Kirk Ferentz and his staff have their work cut out for them this offseason.

The Hawkeyes (7-5, 5-4) let a glorious opportunity slip through their fingers in a 24-17 loss to Nebraska on Black Friday. A win would’ve punched Iowa’s ticket to the B1G Championship Game in Indy. Instead, the Hawks are left wondering “what-if” as they ponder an offseason of change and overhaul.

Fixing the offense is priority No. 1. Finding a serviceable QB who can push the ball downfield with consistency has to top the list. OC Brian Ferentz was under scrutiny all season. He must prove he can adapt and get things fixed immediately. Iowa’s defense is too talented to waste with a meager offense.

Let’s take a look at how each position group graded out this season for the Hawkeyes.

Quarterback: D-

Let’s face it, this is as close to a failing grade as there is without giving one. The QB position constantly let the Hawks down in 2022. Spencer Petras struggled mightily. Alex Padilla didn’t get many opportunities in relief. Those he did receive didn’t go well.

Iowa must figure out what to do with this position before next fall. Finding a competent QB shouldn’t be that difficult.

Petras finished the season with 1,725 yards, but threw for just 5 TDs. Padilla threw for 1 touchdown. When your QBs account for just 6 TD throws, it leaves a lot to be desired. Add in the fact that neither was a running threat, and you get an offense that was nearly the worst in the country.

Running backs: C+

Kaleb Johnson put together an OK season, running for 800 yards and 6 TDs while averaging 63.5 yards per game.

Leshon Williams added 435 yards and 2 scores. Decent production, but not quite what Iowa is used to. Part of the issue was teams stacking the box to defend the run. Opponents knew Iowa’s QBs couldn’t beat them consistently. The week-to-week opponent’s game plan was to stuff the run and make the Hawks throw. It worked well.

Wide receivers/tight ends: B

Iowa continues to pride itself on stellar tight end play. The past year was no different. Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey provided a lethal 1-2 punch. The duo combined for 963 yards on 78 catches and 4 touchdowns. Pretty solid work once again.

The problem lies with the outside receiving corps. Only 2 TD grabs from Iowa receivers all season. An effort that’s not going to cut it in Power 5 football.

Nico Ragaini and Arland Bruce IV were the only others to snag a TD reception. Obviously, you can’t pin all the ineffectiveness on either the QBs or the WRs. But one thing’s for certain: a big uptick in production in 2023 is needed for Iowa to get over the hump in the West.

Offensive line: C+

The Hawkeyes once again featured a big, physical offensive line. It was a group that had its share of ups and downs.

Penalties and inconsistent play hindered the unit. The Hawks were dead last in the league in yards per carry (2.62) in mid-October. They were also near the bottom of the league in giving up tackles for losses.

Yes, the Hawkeyes missed 2021 Rimmington Award winner Tyler Linderbaum anchoring the middle. But 2022 featured too much inconsistency for Ferentz’s liking.

One bright spot moving forward is sophomore left tackle Mason Richman. The experience he and others gained should be valuable for 2023.

Defensive line: A

A tremendous group with depth and the ability to make plays.

Let’s start with Luka Van Ness and John Waggoner. The duo combined for 7.5 sacks (6 for Van Ness) and 15 TFL. A combined 67 total tackles on the season by this pair as well. They clogged the middle and made life miserable for opposing offenses.

Not to be outdone is senior Noah Shannon. He finished with 8 TFL, while junior Logan Lee tallied 3 sacks and 7 TFL.

It was a deep, dominant group for Phil Parker’s defense.

Linebackers: A-

Jack Campbell was one of the nation’s best middle linebackers. Campbell dominated this season with 118 tackles, which led the team by a wide margin.

Campbell, a Butkus Award Finalist, went over 100 tackles for the 2nd straight year. He also snagged 2 INTs.

Senior Seth Benson also had a nice year, tallying 88 tackles and an INT.

Defensive backs: A

It was a shame to see Cooper DeJean leave the Nebraska game in the 1st quarter with a head injury. DeJean was having an outstanding season with 4 picks and 68 tackles.

His pick-6 against Wisconsin Nov. 12 was a game-changing play and helped lead the Hawks to victory.

Junior Quinn Schulte was also a menace on the back end. The junior free safety was 3rd on the team in tackles (69) and added 6 PBUs.

Riley Moss was outstanding in coverage all year. The senior from Ankeny, Iowa, led the team with 10 pass breakups and received plenty of preseason and postseason accolades.

The Iowa back end proved itself as one of the best units not only in the B1G, but the nation.

Specialists: A

Tory Taylor was 1 of the top punters in the country. Taylor averaged over 45 yards per punt and his veteran experience was a plus for the Hawks.

Freshman Drew Stevens was another bright spot. He made 16-of-18 FGs (88.9%) and was perfect on PATs. Stevens was also a perfect 2-for-2 on kicks of 50+ yards.

A unit that has normally been solid for the Hawkeyes was once again up to the task in 2022.