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Snap Counts: vs Iowa

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Who played where as PSU stomped the Hawkeyes last Saturday night.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Offense

  • It looked like Brendan Mahon got his ankle rolled on the first play of the game.  Then got it rolled again on the second play.  And after making a cut block on as a backside tackle on a quick pass on the 3rd play, he exited the game.
  • Chaz Wright took over the rest of the way, and with the exception of one mental error that got McSorley planted, he played pretty well.  Well enough to put 41 on a pretty good defense.
  • This, of course, is EXACTLY how all of us thought we'd perform at OT once our top two OTs were out due to injury.  Right?

On Defense

  • The last few weeks we've given shout outs to Shareef Miller.  The staff rewarded him this game, giving him top snaps as 3rd DE (behind Sickels and Schwan).
  • Everyone who had the DE rotation as Sickels-Schwan-Miller-Brown pre-season, raise your hand, and someone will come around to pummel your face for lying.
  • All of the injuries at the beginning of the season has led to 17 guys getting regular snaps in the front 7, and 8 more getting regular snaps in the backfield.
  • And only 3 of them are seniors.

New Favorite Play

Here's the fourth snap of the game against Iowa.  Cousin Joe (Moorhead) starts Saquon Barkley in the near slot - an empty backfield set.  Iowa, who will put 2 safeties on the hashes 12-yards deep no matter the situation, shifts MLB Josey Jewel to the near slot over Barkley.  SLB Bower takes a few steps inside, stacking himself over RG (and Big Ten Freshman of the Week) Connor McGovern.   Not good (for Iowa).  As discussed in last week's Snap Counts, this is an effect of the formation and motion.  Empty backfield has created an empty box.

As far as the PSU offense is concerned: Barkley will run in motion, meshing with McSorley.  McSorley can give it to Barkley around the end, or keep it himself and follow 350-lb Chaz Wright into the hole, or keep it himself and bounce it wide (to his left) if the Iowa DE pinches inside.

Here's what makes it our new favorite play: with Gesicki in tight, we present 7 gaps.  Iowa - steadfast in their 2-deep safety look - has just 6 defenders to cover those 7 gaps, and two of them (their LBs) are out of position at the snap.  This makes for fun times (and 359 yards rushing, with a 7 ypc average for the evening).

But wait - there's more.  This play keeps getting better.  McSorley and Barkley meshing freezes the purposely-unblocked Iowa LDE.  He'll be optioned, of course.  What's the big deal, you've seen read-option 10000 times?  Well, instead of the traditional play, with the QB pulling the ball and taking off wide if the DE pinches, we have this NFL-caliber RB already going cruising speed.  I.e., Barkley gets wide a whole lot faster than a QB running veer.

Now, Barkley beats the DE outside by about 10 yards, and turns it up on this snap.  Iowa's SLB is out of position, and is also toast. But this is the icing on the cake: take a look at the backside of the play, and tell me that you don't see at least 8 yards of green grass over there too.  (And if the backside DE pinches, McSorley could bounce it wide, rather than follow 350-lb Wright thru the B gap, off of Bates' down block on the nose).

Pretty fun, right?