Game Grades: Iowa
Penn State eked out a last second win over Iowa last weekend, 21-19, to keep its perfect season alive.
Here's how each unit performed in Iowa City.
Penn State found success running and checking down the ball to Saquon Barkley for
the duration of the game. Overall, Barkley had 358 all-purpose yards. Iowa had
Penn State’s receivers well-covered most of the night. Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead’s
offense did not establish the deeping passing game until the final drive. After
missing open receivers several times over the course of the first few drives, Trace McSorley was able to hit his receivers and lead the Nittany Lions down the field for a last-play touchdown to Juwan Johnson. It was Johnson’s first career TD-catch. Overall, it was concerning that PSU outgained Iowa 579-273, yet needed the final play to win.
It was a strong defensive showing by the Nittany Lions. Defenders were crashing the backfield frequently, mostly keeping the Iowa running game contained, minus a 35-yard TD run on a play in which the Penn State linebackers were caught out of position. Penn State defensive backs kept Iowa receivers covered, limited the team to 191 yards passing. There were a lot of dropped balls by open Hawkeye receivers. With the ball inside Iowa’s 5-yard line, Shareef Miller was able to penetrate the Iowa offensive line and grab a safety that helped quiet a rambunctious Iowa home crowd.
The Penn State kick and punt returners did well, handling the ball cleanly and breaking off some modest returns. Credit Iowa for some great kick coverage, not allowing Saquon Barkley to make any monster-sized returns. On the other hand, Penn State’s punt coverage had a pivotal play, downing a ball inside the Iowa 5, leading to the safety a couple plays later. Kicker Tyler Davis was 1-2 on field goals, making a 21-yarder and kicking a 41-yarder wide left.
Credit Moorhead for knowing how to use his best weapon effectively, giving Saquon Barkley opportunities to make plays in the open field on runs and check-down passes. An offense clicks when your star running back makes defenders miss, outruns them, and can be used in multiple ways. Excellent play calling on the final drive to trust Trace McSorley to take over the game for the Nittany Lions. Defense was stout all night long and had very few glaring mistakes. Credit James Franklin for keeping the team focused in a hostile environment.
Jeremy Ganes is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.