[The second half of this game is probably the best I felt about Penn State all season long. Penn State was mashing Iowa, and the Blue Band was playing...whatever that song is when the offense is picking up first downs. Here's a great look at how PSU plowed Iowa's front seven out of the way. - CG]
We were facing Iowa. We’d lost 3 games in a row to these jackasses, for reasons like overthrown passes, interference calls, bad timeouts and blocked punts in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
This was 2011, and we’d just beaten the worst team in Big Ten history – 2011 Indiana – by a score of 16 – 10. While our defense was top 10, our offense was hovering around the outskirts of top 100.
The first half ended 6 – 3 PSU – and those 6 points were a miracle. We bounced passes off of our players, Iowa players, and even a referee. Iowa’s no-huddle spread had moved the ball some, but not consistently. And this game was shaping up like most of the recent PSU losses to Iowa, where neither team wants to lose...and neither team will take any risks in order to win. So basically, cross your f’ing fingers and hope they f’up first. Urban Meyer and Chris Spielman, who was in a wonderful autumn-colored ensemble, were calling the game from the booth. Your halftime stats:
>McGloin: 8 for 10, 93 yards (with 3 deflections completed)
>Bolden: 3 for 6, 31 yards (with 2 deflections completed)
>Silas Redd: 16 carries, 75 yards
PSU received the kickoff to start the second half. McGloin led the troops onto, and off of, the field after a 3 and out. Iowa got the ball and went 3 and out. Bolden entered and went three and out.
Then Iowa got 3 first downs to shift field position – always critical in these crappy games – but Astorino dropped a sure pick 6 on third down to stop their drive. Iowa punted and pinned PSU at our 3 yard line.
PSU made a drive behind 2 really great throws by McGloin, who hit a post corner to Moye for about 20 yards, and a 12 yard out to Brown. McGloin was feeling it now, just like Brett Favre. In fact, on first down McGloin handed-off, pulled the Favre fake-throw, unbuckled his chinstrap and spit. He was on fire, yo.
So on the next play he gave Moye a chance in the end zone from Iowa’s 29 yard line, which was almost picked. No worries, homie. After a couple of handoffs, PSU faced a 3rd and 5 from Iowa’s 8 yard line. JayPa won the rock-paper-scissors with Galen, and called a pass. There wasn’t really any pressure, but McGloin slid to his left and gave Moye a second chance against Micah Hyde. Pick in the end zone.
'There it went', I thought. Those 3 points we threw away were huge. Iowa took the ball at their 20 and quickly moved to midfield. And I was crapping my pants.
And then the grape turned color.
Gerald Hodges beat Iowa’s RB on a blitz and strip sacked the QB, giving PSU the ball at midfield. And apparently JayPa was in the restroom, because Galen called 12 straight runs, taking the ball out of our QBs’s hands, and giving it to the big boys up front.
The O line, apparently as pissed as I was at that point, took it and smashed face. On the second play of the drive, facing 2nd and 5, we had another handoff to Silas. No tricks. Just big boy, smash mouth football.
If you’ve ever watched a PSU game, you’ve seen this (below) formation before. Iowa knows it too. They give us a 4 – 3 over, and drop the strong safety into the box. OMG, an 8-man box. Maybe they even called out the play beforehand for good measure.
No matter. Watch the combo block by C Stank (and RG Urschel) on NT Mike Daniels, and the backside backer. Awesome work. Daniels is quick off the snap, but Stank and Urschel lock on, driving left. Stank’s left arm is free, and he’ll be moving to the backside backer in the next frame.
In the shot below, Stank and Urschel have turned Daniels, though Daniels is holding ground pretty well. Stank’s moved on, and apparently he’s faster than Devon Smith (top of screen), based on ground covered despite ramming into a NT. Homicidal Back-On-Backer specialist Zordich is leading through the hole, and is about to destroy the playside inside backer.
Zordich picks the ILB up at the 44 yard line, and drives him to the 42. In fact, we have hats-on-hats all around, and Silas hits the original line of scrimmage untouched, without any penetrators. Herky favorite Daniels is 3 yards off the ball, into his LB’s laps. Nice work, boys.
Hats on hats, lots of push, big boy football. Silas squirts through for a gain of five. First down.
After that play, we saw, in order: Silas for 7; Suhey for 5; Dukes for 5; and Silas off tackle for a TD, that was called back on a cheap holding call on Stank. And we’re stuck with 2nd and 15 from about the Iowa 32. To this point in the game – and season – we’d screw up a throw, screw up another throw, and then punt when facing 2nd and 15. But not this drive.
Game plan offense? Hah! We’re Penn State, and they’re Iowa. We come out in 21 personnel – like every other snap on this drive – and they counter with a 4 – 3 over and drop the strong safety (for 8 in the box), like every other snap on this drive. This is what we do, that’s what you do – let’s see who wins. Adjustments are for pussies.
On this play, Daniels is replaced at NT by a backup that is about to be destroyed. He’s playing nose, and is front and center in the shot below, between C Stank and LG Troutman. Watch where he ends up.
It’s a combo block by Troutman, ISO BOB lead (again), right up the gut – down and distance (2nd and 15) be damned. Stank steps left to engage the NT, while Troutman steps right. Suhey leads through the G/T gap.
Ah, picture perfect (below). The NT is in big trouble, and Barham has inside leverage on the DE. Suhey and the playside backer are about to make a collision. Good thing that inside backer doesn't have Vandy for a position coach because he'd be in BIG TROUBLE FOR NOT SPRINTING INTO THE HOLE FOR !(@&^%#(!&@$ SAKES!!
Suhey’s nursing neck/shoulder issues all year long, so he submarines the playside backer instead of trying to split his helmet open like Zordich (to great effect, though). Barham maintains leverage, and Troutman moves off the nose to swallow the backside backer. Nice work (again), boys.
Not outside, not outside, not outside…Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes! Dukes side steps the submarined playside backer, and busts through the hole. Having been that lonely free safety (at the top of the screen) before myself, I can say it is a really sick feeling - and the backs I saw weren’t 240lbs.
The free safety does a great job, though, and the rush is stopped for 'only' 9 yards. That left us with a 3rd and 6 – and Dukes got it on the next play. Suhey ran for 0 yards on first down; Silas for 4; Silas for 7 and a first down at the Iowa 3 yard line.
And then JayPa came back to the booth and called a sweet play action pass on 1st down, and McGloin hit Haplea for the TD. Though there were 8 minutes left…..game (effectively) over.
Why bring this up? Besides the fact that it was a chance to highlight Stank and Urschel, it was because I could legitimately write that the O line won this game. They stomped ass all game long, particularly on this drive. And how many times do you get to read that on the interwebs? Give the big boys some love.