The Good, The Bad, The Ugly 2020: Penn State

By Mike Jones on November 23, 2020 at 12:36 pm
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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The Defensive Line, Running Game

Iowa’s defensive line had such a good day that this play by Chauncey Golston became an afterthought:

In all, Golston, Daviyon Nixon, Jack Heflin, and Zach VanValkenburg amassed 14 total tackles, three sacks, 4.5 TFL and a QB hurry. They were also responsible for Iowa’s two interceptions on the day. Nixon, of course, made one of the most memorable plays in recent memory with his interception:

He also tipped the ball that led to the Golston interception. Give him the Piesman, please. 

Like so much of this Iowa team, after starting slowly, the defensive line has really ratcheted up the pressure over the past three weeks. This pressure has resulted in a number of opportunities and is why Iowa is ranked 7th in the nation in turnover margin.

With all of his spectacular ability you might be surprised to see that Tyler Goodson is actually being outgained in YPC by Mekhi Sargent, 6.4 to 5.5. Sargent was mashing Penn State, rushing for 101 yards, two touchdowns and averaging 6.73 YPC. Goodson looked a little tentative, like he was waiting for the big play that never came, but still rushed for 93 yards on 20 attempts. Sargent had no such problems, putting his head down and powering through the Penn State front seven. It was a beautiful running performance from both backs, who broke the will of the Nittany Lion defense.

Bad: Pass Protection

I won’t lament over it but Alaric Jackson got worked and Petras was sacked three times. He didn't throw any interceptions but he fumbled and I hope the day doesn't come when teams force Petras to beat them.

(That day is absolutely coming.)

Ugly: That Third Quarter

Another third quarter, another big yikes from this Iowa football team. 

Coming out of half, Iowa’s first drive went like this:

  • 1st and 10: Tyler Goodson rush for 4 yards.
  • 2nd and 6: Spencer Petras sacked for 10 yard loss, Petras fumbles, Iowa called for holding.
  • 3rd and 16: Spencer Petras sacked for 10 yard loss.
  • 4th and 26: Punt.

Now, the good news was that on the very next Penn State play, Dane Belton forced a Will Levis fumble that the Hawkeyes recovered and turned into a touchdown, taking a 31-7 lead. With that, we figured maybe Iowa’s third period woes were solved. Not so fast, my friend.

Following another hapless drive by Will Levis, Iowa promptly turned the ball over and James Franklin made the switch to Sean Clifford. Well, within eight seconds, Penn State had scored a touchdown to make it 31-13 (Iowa blocked the PAT). Iowa then made some very bad playcalling decisions to set up a 50 yard field goal miss from Keith Duncan and Sean Clifford took the field again. This time, it took 11 seconds for Penn State to score and complete a 2-point conversion, making it 31-21.

With 4:09 left in the third quarter, it was 31-7 Hawkeyes.

By the end of the third quarter, it was only 31-21 Hawkeyes.

You might be surprised to find out that Iowa has only allowed 28 points in the third quarter this season. On the flip side, they’ve only scored 14, getting shutout in three games. It didn’t matter this time. It might in the future.

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