The Final Exam — Penn State 21 — Iowa 19
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By John Patchett (email@example.com) 09/26/17
The Iowa — Penn State Game is in the books. The Hawkeyes lost on the final play of the game 21–19 at Kinnick Stadium last Saturday night. It’s time to grade that final exam…
Iowa’s Offense in the First Half was — well — offensive. Non-existent is a better word. Rarely have you witnessed a poorer offensive performance. Yet, somehow, the Hawkeyes led 7–5 going into the locker room at Halftime. They did so by capitalizing on Josey Jewell’s interception and return deep into Penn State territory in the closing seconds of the Second Quarter. In the Second Half, they showed they could move the ball on the Nittany Lion’s Defense, although not consistently, and scored enough points to give Iowa the lead with 1:42 left. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, 1:42 was just enough time for the Nitts to score the winning TD as time expired.
· Quarterback B
o Nate Stanley continues to impress — and grow — in his starting role. Two more TD passes add to his season total. There was a great deal of adversity in this game, and he persevered. That is a good thing for this team going forward.
· Running Backs C+
o Akrum Wadley said this was the worst performance in his Hawkeyes career. He was basically shut out in the First Half. In the last two periods, he did Wadley Things again. His 70 yard TD catch and run was spectacular — as was his 35 yard TD run. He finished as Iowa’s leading rusher (80 yards) and receiver *(4 catches, 75 yards). So much for Kirk saying that Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin would get some rush PT vs. PSU.
· Receivers (WR & TE) B-
o Nick Easley caught another TD pass and continues as Iowa’s go-to possession receiver.
· Offensive Line C
o The line got burned time and again vs. PSU’s 40%+ blitzing. It never quite seemed to figure it out — better in the Second Half than the First though.
I’m tempted to give the Defense a B+ or maybe even an A-. But it did give up the last second TD. By then it had spent way too much time on the field thanks to Iowa’s Offense which did almost nothing in the First Half especially. But it was a tremendous effort against a powerhouse PSU Offense with two spectacular players in Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley. It was — almost — enough to snare the victory in spite of the lop-sided stats. Penn State finished with 579 yards of total offense, running 99 plays (yes, that’s right, 99) from the line of scrimmage. I blame part of those on Iowa’s Offense and its lack of productivity.
· Defensive Line A-
o 4 sacks, multiple pass knockdowns, etc. A gutsy and overall pretty impressive performance. Once again, A.J. Epenesa showed why it will be very hard for the coaches to keep him off the field. DE Anthony Nelson had himself a special game as well.
· Linebackers B+
o If I was grading only Josey Jewell the grade would have been an A or A+. He was terrific, all over the field, led the team in tackles, had a pick and big return that set Iowa’s TD late in the First Half.
· Defensive Secondary B-
o Gave up 284 passing yards but just one passing TD — unfortunately that was the game winner. CB Joshua Jackson continued to play well and new starting Safety Amani Hooker was very good, finishing with 13 tackles — he’s a keeper at starter and a significant upgrade. Now if they can find someone like that for the other starting Safety position — Miles Taylor is still trying to figure out where the game-winning pass went.
Special Teams B-
Kind of a mixed bag — still a work in progress.
· Place-Kicking A
o PK Miguel Recinos suffered his first blocked field goal attempt — turned out to be huge in terms of the final score but overall another solid performance — minimized Barkley’s kick returns, too.
· Punting C-
o Colten Rastetter needs way more consistency to continue to justify his holding the starting position. His longest punts occur when he gets considerable roll — usually when punting “rugby” style. I think they’re trying to redshirt Gersonde but Rastetter hurt Iowa multiple times in terms of field position — which was extremely important in this game.
· Punt Returns No Grade
o Not a factor in this game. At least there were no muffs.
· Kickoff Return B
o Kelly-Martin continues to look better than solid here. I fully expect he will break one or more yet this season.
· HC Kirk Ferentz Pass (Pass / Fail)
o Game management was pretty good in this contest. His team was in a position to win until the end — against the 4th-ranked team in the country.
· OC Brian Ferentz C
o I like what he’s doing overall this season, but the First Half play calling and schemes looked way too conservative with nothing to show for it until the last few seconds of that period. The play call that led to the safety when Wadley was tackled in the end-zone was baffling. Second Half was pretty good as were the Halftime adjustments.
· DC Phil Parker A-
o He devised a bend-but-don’t-break defense that nearly led to an incredible Iowa victory. The stats may not show it, but that was a terrific defensive performance from the Hawkeyes on Saturday night.
Prefense Defensive Player of the Week
This has to be Josey Jewell who played perhaps the game of his career, all things considered: 16 total tackles, 11 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 1 pick and huge return. He was everywhere on the field — and got there quickly. There’s a reason he’s the Big Ten tackling leader at this point in the season.
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T&K Roofing & Sheet Metal Coach of the Week
This is an easy choice this week: Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker — for constructing the Defense that nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year. Other teams will likely try the same thing in an effort to contain Penn State’s explosive offense going forward this season.
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Please remember, as always, these are subjective observations and open to debate and discussion more often than not. Agree or disagree — that’s part of the fun of college football.
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