Saturday will be another big test for Robert Bolden. The Alabama game showed us that we can at least stay close to a ranked team. Eliminate the red zone turnovers and we could have been in business (maybe).
QBSneak12: Ricky Stanzi seems to have finally put it together and is no longer throwing multiple INTs in every game (9 TDs to 1 INT this season). What do you think has been the reason for Stanzi's early success this season?
BHGP: There are any number of reasons for Stanzi's improved play so far this season. To begin, he has better receivers; Iowa's two best wideouts from last season returned, and Alan Reisner has shown he can clearly fill the shoes of Tony Moeaki at tight end. Part of the Manzi's improvement has been due to the offensive playcalling. Too often last season, Rick (QBSneak12: I only know of one Rick, and it is this one) was asked to make throws that he frankly didn't have the arm strength to complete. Stanzi throws an excellent deep ball, to be sure, but throwing constant 15-yard out routes takes an entirely different animal than he. While last year's playbook was stocked full of late-breaking routes, this year has focused on short routes, vert/skinny posts, and screens, the kind of routes Stanzi can throw in his sleep. And part of it is simply an off-season of growth, an off-season where Americanzi said the only thing more disgusting to him than an interception is someone burning an American flag LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT USA #1...Excuse me.
QBSneak12: With the injury to Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson is the last man standing. Do you think Robinson will have the same type of success Trent Richardson had against Penn State, or will the PSU defense be able to contain him like they did "Heisman candidate" Bernard Pierce (Temple)?
BHGP: First off, there's no need to scare quote Bernard Pierce like he attends Mosque University. But as for Robinson, it's a very interesting question, because ARob is basically a homeless man's Trent Richardson. He's not big, he's not particularly agile, he's not going to outrun anyone's defensive backs, and he's certainly not a great pass blocker. No, Robinson doesn't do anything great, but he's a great system back; he makes the one cut, shakes a tackle now and then, and knows how to finish.
And this is about the time where I find out he's torn an ACL. Damn you, Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God! (QBSneak12: It appears he has time shares in Iowa City and State College).
BHGP: Nope, not really.
QBSneak12: Iowa is sitting at 3-1 on the season, playing the same number of cream puffs as Penn State. Arizona seemed to solve the Hawkeyes, especially on Special Teams. Is that the Achilles heal of this years Iowa team?
BHGP: It appears that way, yes. Iowa has the conference's -- and maybe the country's -- best punter, and has been effective in punt coverage. Other than that, it's a disaster, and it's somewhat explainable. Iowa's special teams are where walk-ons and redshirt freshmen make their mark, and they're coached by linebackers coach Darrell Wilson and running backs coach Lester Erb. The problem is, Iowa's underclass is overloaded with that sort of over-sized tight end/linebacker that Iowa takes from the MAC and turns into Robert Gallery. Those guys are good in certain spots, but not throughout the kick coverage team, and the kick returns against Iowa have been based on pure speed. Add to that the fact that Wilson is the interim defensive coordinator (Norm Parker's been ill for 3 weeks now) and Erb is down to Robinson and 2 freshmen, and it's clear where there could be problems.
QBSneak12: What are your 3 keys to the game?
- If Iowa can consistently run the ball against the Penn State front seven, sayonara. The only reason Arizona beat Iowa -- other than the sort of absurd turnover meltdown you only get in the desert -- was that they shut down the run and forced Iowa to throw on all 3 downs. I'd expect PSU to be even more aggressive with the strong safety in the box in that cover 3 you love so much. If that's enough to keep Robinson below 55 yards at the half, this game is going to be a nailbiter.
- Bolden needs to win this game for Penn State, and he has to be incredibly accurate to do that. If he's hesitant throwing the ball or simply inaccurate, he'll eventually fold to interceptions and hits from the Iowa front four. Nobody wants to see that. Well, except for me. I kind of want to see that.
- Just have fun and exhibit good sportsmanship, boys! Remember, it's only a game!