The Good: Spencer Petras & Brian Ferentz
Statistically, this was the best game of Spencer Petas’s career. His quarterback rating was a crisp 175.5, higher than his three-touchdown performance against Illinois last year and last week against Colorado State. This was the first time he’d completed 70% of his passes (min. 10 attempts) and his 8.6 yards per completion average was, to the best of my knowledge, the best of his career as well.
So, how was this accomplished? Well, Iowa came out firing and never took their foot off the gas. Eight of Iowa’s first 11 plays were passes. That would typically be a recipe for disaster, especially when Petras didn’t hit on a lot of those early throws. However, the willingness to throw the ball took Maryland off the line of scrimmage and on Iowa’s third drive of the game, they called three straight running plays, resulting in a total of 16 yards. From there, they went back to Petras and got him comfortable with some swing passes to his running backs.
Even though the early gameplan wasn’t terribly effective, it obviously gave Petras some confidence, as he wasn’t looking to check the ball down every other play. Were there plays with bad route trees? Yeah, obviously. But there was also (finally) a lot of play action worked into the gameplan and Maryland was kept guessing by Brian Ferentz. For instance:
This was a designed play to Tyler Goodson, who clearly had a defensive mismatch. But Petras didn’t stare him down the entire time. He checked off to his WR1 and then found Goodson across the middle, who had left his defender in the dust with a quick cut. T-Good did the rest.
Iowa kept their foot on the gas until the fourth quarter, finally taking their starters out after Petras’s third touchdown pass of the day (and fifth total touchdown), a 7-yard completion to Tyrone Tracy. I don’t know if Mike Locksley somehow pissed Kirk off but it sure seemed like it. It wasn’t even the whole “keeping the starters” in thing. It was the whole “throwing the ball down the field” thing. It could be a game tape thing for Penn State. It could be Petty Kirk. Regardless, Brian put together a good offensive gameplan and Petras thrived.
Honorable Mention: Iowa’s swarming secondary
The Bad: The Penalties
Mike Locksley has never been much of a disciplinarian. Well, I guess I should say that his teams have never been really disciplined. Currently, Maryland ranks 107th in the nation (out of 130 teams) in penalties per game, averaging 7.6. There were multiple drives where Maryland shot themselves in the foot with false starts or holds or [insert penalty here]. In total, the Terps had 10 penalties for 82 yards.
That said, Iowa wasn’t much better, tallying nine penalties for 63 yards. The Hawkeyes are typically one of the most disciplined teams in the nation, so this was uncharacteristic of Ferentz’s squad. A somewhat “big” matchup looms with Penn State so they’ll need to keep things clean to take down the Nittany Lions.
The Ugly: Games on FS1
Tim Brando has one of those voices. Like Marv Albert, Gus Johnson or Kevin Harlan, you know it when you hear it. It’s timeless. It’s really great.
Unfortunately, Tim Brando is objectively bad at his job, routinely misidentifying players, making odd analogies, and sometimes saying things that make you…uncomfortable. Add that to the producer continuing to show replays of Dontay Demus’s injury, airing a pre-recorded halftime show that made zero mention of the game that was actually being aired on PRIMETIME and the general amount of commercials you have to deal with during a Fox broadcast, I give this game an F and I would prefer to never have to watch a game on FS1 again.