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By John Patchett (   09/21/17



Grades: Offense A- — Defense B+ — Special Teams B — OC Brian Ferentz A — DC Phil Parker A- — HC Kirk Ferentz P (Pass/Fail).

Iowa trailed 14-10 at Halftime in one of the weirder games played recently at Kinnick Stadium. But it was all Hawkeyes in the Second Half, leading to the final score that could have easily been at least 38-14 if not wider. The game was marred by a slew of penalties and reviews with a mixed officiating crew inserting itself early and often, many times in a questionable manner.

On Offense Iowa had two touchdowns taken away by officials, probably the most controversial of which was Akrum Wadley’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct on his amazing 74 yard catch and run in the First Quarter. Quarterback Nate Stanley continued to grow into his starting role and now has 10 TD passes in his first three games.

On Defense Iowa was burned early in the game but shut out the Mean Green in the Second, aided in part by the Hawkeyes Offense totally dominating time of possession – particularly in the Third and Fourth Quarters.

Of particular note: Amani Hooker saw time at safety and looked pretty solid. This is important going forward because neither Miles Taylor nor Jack Gervase is showing the kind of growth you want through the first three games. In fact, his performance against UNT earned him the start vs. Penn State.

On Special Teams Miguel Recinos remained perfect on PATs and Field Goals – while Colton Rastetter upped his punting average a bit (though still not where it needs to be).

Prefense Defensive Player of the Week

I’m coloring way outside the lines on this one. I’m giving it to Iowa’s entire Offense for building up 40:45 time of possession and several huge clock-eating drives. It’s hard for an opponent’s offense to score — no matter how high-powered it might be — when its standing on its own sidelines watching for much of the game.

Prefense Hand Sanitizer and Surface Protectant – Remember, the best defense is Prefense.

T&K Roofing & Sheet Metal Coach of the Week

A lot of credit is due both Phil and Brian for this win. But this week I’m going with the old head man himself. You finish non-conference play undefeated for just the seventh time in your 19 seasons, and you’re climbing ever so much closer to becoming Iowa’s winningest head football coach in history. Kirk has ushered in some more “New Kirk” things, including a different (and very effective) philosophy on Fourth Downs. He let the officials know of his displeasure for their poor performance and the incessant reviews but did so controlling his own emotions. There are a lot of head coaches out there who would not have retained their cool, given what was going on out on that field. Plus, taking a knee at the end instead of tacking on another seven points to look better to the voters in the polls — well, that’s classic and classy Kirk.

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IOWA (3-0) VS. PENN STATE (3-0) (09/23/17 – KINNICK STADIUM)

Iowa (3-0, 0-0) returns to Kinnick Stadium Saturday evening under the lights to host fourth-ranked Penn State (3-0, 0-0) to open the Big Ten Season. Iowa has defeated Wyoming and North Texas at home and Iowa State on the road. PSU has topped Akron, Pitt, and Georgia State – all in Happy Valley. This is the annual “ANF” Game (America Needs Farmers) and is also the annual “Black and Gold Spirit” Game. Former Iowa and Vikings star Chad Greenway is the ANF Honoree this year.

Kirk Ferentz is the dean of college coaches in his 19th season as Iowa Head Coach. His overall record is 150-113 and he is 138-92 at Iowa. He is just five wins shy of tying the legendary Hayden Fry as Iowa’s winningest head football coach.

The Nittany Lions Head Coach James Franklin is in his third year at Penn State where is record is 25-15. His overall record as a head coach is 49-30, spanning six seasons. This will be Franklin’s first trip to Kinnick Stadium.

This is Penn State’s first road game of the season. You can argue that Iowa’s non-conference opponents have been tougher than the teams PSU has faced, which have a combined record of 2-4. This will — by far — be the toughest test so far this season for the Nittany Lions.

Three key questions come to mind:

1) How much does revenge motivate the Hawkeyes after last year’s 41-14 blowout loss at Penn State and Saquon Barkley’s post-game comment that the Hawkeyes “quit” when they fell behind?

2) And if that serves as motivation, especially for the Defense, will it actually make any difference when Iowa lines up against the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions in Iowa City Saturday night?

3) Which offensive style will prevail: Iowa’s long, time-consuming scoring drives vs. Penn State’s quick-strike, big-play explosiveness?

Interestingly, Iowa is dominating time-of-possession, averaging 35:35 per game while the Nitts are holding the ball for only 24:08 on average — yet PSU is averaging 47 points and 469 yards per game while the Hawkeyes are sitting at 33 points and 398.3 yards per game.

This game is a national telecast on ABC with its top announce crew of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. As usual, Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak handle the duties on the Hawkeye Radio Network. The game will also be available on satellite radio: Channels 81 on both XM and Sirius.

Game Notes

Iowa has won five straight B1G openers. Its last loss came at Penn State in 2011. Iowa is going for its fifth 4-0 season-start under Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes are also trying to get their 400th home win in the program’s history as a varsity sport. Saturday marks the first time since 2012 that Iowa opens Big Ten Play in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes have won four straight night games at Kinnick Stadium – the most recent coming last year against second-ranked Michigan. Two of those victories came via game-winning field goals, including last year’s over the Wolverines. Iowa has played 14 games under the lights at Kinnick, winning 10 of those.

Iowa has won six of the last ten games it has played against Penn State though PSU has won the last three. The Hawkeyes have nine wins against eight losses against Penn State since the Nitts joined the Big Ten in 1993. Overall this is the 27th meeting between the two teams and PSU has a slight 14-12 edge.

Penn State is just 11-13 when opening Big Ten Conference play. Iowa has faced off against the Nittany Lions three times to open the Big Ten Conference Season – Iowa has won each of those (2002, 2009, 2010).

The Nittany Lions are ranked fourth in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls. Iowa’s most recent wins over ranked opponents include two in 2016: vs. Michigan and Nebraska — both at Kinnick Stadium.

In case you forgot, PSU is the defending Big Ten Champion winning nine consecutive games, finishing last season with a 11-3 record, defeating Wisconsin in the title game, and playing in the Rose Bowl.

QB Nate Stanley’s 10 TD passes are the best in a three-game stretch since Chuck Hartleib threw 11 in 1987. Chuck Long threw 12 during the 1985 season.

RB Akrum Wadley is third in the B1G and 13th nationally in all-purpose yards — averaging 170 per game. He has 258 rushing yards and 152 receiving yards plus 100 yards on kick returns. His 2681 career all-purpose yards ranks him 18th in program history.

Hawkeyes are sixth in time of possession while the Nittany Lions are 126th.

LB Josey Jewell continues to lead the Hawkeyes in tackles with 28 — which ranks third in the B1G.

Depth Chart Update

With the injury to RB James Butler, Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young are co RB-2; Wadley is listed as the starter and has recovered from the ankle injury he sustained vs. UNT. Boone Myer is listed as LG-1. Amani Hooker is FS-1 with Geno Stone as his backup; Jack Gervase moves to SS-2 backing up Miles Taylor. True Freshmen continue to make an impact in all three phases for the Hawkeyes.


New OC Brian Ferentz has unveiled a much more diversified offense, calling plays away from historical tendencies, and rolling the dice on more than one occasion that resulted in big plays. His impact thus far has resulted in the following: scores in 11 straight quarters plus OT at ISU; five TD drives 87 yards or longer; nine TD drives of 10 plays ore more; 57 combined first downs vs. Iowa State and North Texas (the most in consecutive games in the Kirk Ferentz Era); and the average 35:35 time of possession ranks sixth in the country.

10 of Iowa’s first 13 touchdowns this season have come via the pass – all thrown by new Starting Quarterback Nate Stanley, who has completed 51 out of his 83 passes totaling 655 yards, 10 TDs, just 1 pick, and a passer rating of 165.1 – and that’s just three games in. Parenthetically, that means the Hawkeyes actually do have some productive receivers — wide-outs, tight ends, and running backs. Stanley is spreading the passing wealth around with his favorite targets so far being Nick Easley (16-162-2), Matt Vandeberg (8-80-1), Noah Fant (7-89-3), and Wadley (6-152-1) – also moving up the charts are Ihmir Smith-Marsette and T.J. Hockenson.

Running Backs True Freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin and Redshirt Freshman Toren Young both looked good against the Mean Green Defense last week, getting considerable playing time after James Butler left the game early with a serious elbow injury. They combine for 152 rush yards on 30 carries.

PSU’s Defense is second nationally, allowing just 4.7 points per game while the 272,.7 yards surrendered per game is 22nd in the FBS. Iowa will have to be able to run the ball effectively and — to its advantage — has shown the ability to complete passes this season. Still, expect the PSU to load the box until Stanley and company burn them on a few passes. The Nitts average 3.67 sacks per game which is ninth nationally and third in the Big Ten. Their six picks lead the B1G and are tied fifth in the FBS. And PSU has a +7 turnover margin which leads the Big Ten and is second nationally.

Key defenders for the Nittany Lions include leading-tackler Safety Marcus Allen, DE Shareef Miler who is third in the B1G with 1.3 TFL per game, S Troy Apke, CB Grant Haley, and LB Koa Farmer.


Penn State is an offensive juggernaut with its two most potent weapons being second-year starting Quarterback Trace McSorley (6’, 195) and star Junior Running Back Saquon Barkley (5’11”, 230). They have excellent receivers, including monster Senior Tight End Mike Gesicki (6’6, 250) and WR DaeSean Hamilton, who will likely become PSU’s all-time leading receiver — plus a veteran offensive line with every starter weighing over 300 pounds. McSorley, Barkley, and Gesicki did serious damage to the Hawkeyes last year in Happy Valley (that’s an understatement).

McSorley is an excellent dual-threat QB who can do damage with his feet and arm and he has two or more TD passes in six straight games (nine total this season). PSU has also been running some sets with both McSorley and back-up QB Tommy Stevens in its backfield at the same time with the latter in the role of a runner/pass-threat and receiver – something else opposing Defenses have to prepare for. “Contain” is a word that is impossible to over-emphasize if the Hawkeyes hope to slow down the Nitts quick-strike Offense.

Regular contributor and Land of Ten’s Scott Dochterman wrote this about McSorley: “McSorley is like Northwestern’s Dan Persa, only with a quicker release, better speed and a more talented cast surrounding him. McSorley not only has the potential to beat Iowa, he could embarrass the Hawkeyes.”

Barkley is approaching 3000 career rushing yards and needs just another 196 receiving yards to hit 1000 in that category. That combination would be a first in Penn State history.

The Nittany Lions are the fifth B1G team to score 30 or more points in 10 consecutive games, dating back to last season. That’s the third longest streak in the FBS. They have surpassed 500 yards of total offense twice in their first three games and average 8.28 yards per play. PSU is among the B1G and FBS leaders in so-called “chunk” plays of 20 yards or more

Like last week vs. UNT, one of the best “defensive” strategies could be Iowa’ Offense holding the ball for long, clock-eating scoring drives that keep McSorley, Barkley, and crew on the sidelines.


PK Miguel Recinos remains perfect for Iowa in both PATs (12-12) and field goals (3-3) — his kickoffs have been long and mostly touch-backs.

P Colton Rastetter showed more leg strength last week vs. UNT but is averaging just 39.8 yards per punt.

RB Ivory Kelly-Martin took over primary kick return duties from Wadley last week and averaged 20.8 yards on four returns. Josh Jackson has taken over primary punt return duties (from Matt Vandeberg) and performed adequately, averaging 10.5 yards per return.

PSU has a veteran PK in Tyler Davis who is 12th all-time at Penn State with 32 made field goals, although he is just 2-4 so far this season — he’s 19-19 on PATs.

Penn State is allowing an average of just nine inches per punt return through its first three games — Punter Blake Gillikin’s 45.0 average is fourth in the B1G and 27th in the FBS.

Barkley is also PSU’s leading kick returner averaging 26.8 yards per return. DeAndre Thompkins returns punts, ranking second in B1G and seventh nationally with 20.2 yards per return.

Stats Smackdown compares Iowa’s and PSU’s key season stats to date.