Well this was probably both the best I've seen PSU look, and the worst. That kind of game.
Offensive Snap Counts (total 89):
- QB: Clifford (34), Roberson (55)
- RB: Cain (49), Lee (40), Ford (6)
- WR: Dotson (88), Washington (61), KLS (42), CSB (40), Dottin (1)
- TE: Strange (63), Johnson (52), Warren (3)
- OL: Walker (89), Miranda (89), Scruggs (89), Wallace (89), Wilson (77), Effner (12)
Offensive Personnel Takeaways:
- Bryce Effner was in for the first three drives with Taquan Roberson and I'm not sure that's the best time to put in the reserve OL.
- Cam Sullivan-Brown had a season high snaps in this game and season high in targets. He exclusively replaced Keandre Lambert-Smith, which led to the first time Parker Washington has outsnapped KLS this season.
- Devyn Ford got the start, got 6 snaps over the first 4 drives, and after the game Franklin included him in the injuries but I missed it.
- In case you missed it, Sean Clifford got injured in Q2 on the FG drive and Roberson took every QB snap after that.
- Tyler Warren had a season low in snaps. He seemed to be the one losing snaps to CSB.
Defensive Snap Counts (total 78)
- DE: Ebiketie (68), Luketa (47), Tarburton (37), Vilbert (6)
- DT: Mustipher (4), Tangelo (64), Ellies (46), Izzard (35), Hansard (2), Vanover (1)
- LB: Brooks (78), Smith (75), Jacobs (60), Katshir (3)
- CB: JPJ (76), TCF (72), Hardy (18), Dixon (8)
- S: Brisker (76), Brown (74), Sutherland (6), Ellis (2)
Defensive Personnel Takeaways:
- This was an iron man performance for the starting back 7. Curtis Jacobs is the only member of that group below 91% of game snaps.
- Derrick Tangelo had a season high snaps & percentage played, which makes sense when fellow starting DT PJ Mustipher got hurt on the 4th snap. Coziah Izzard did not have a season high (Ball State for him) but certainly the most meaningful snaps of his career thus far.
- Daequan Hardy had a season low, but not due to performance but rather PSU keeping all three LBs on the field for 77% of snaps. Even in some passing downs they kept Jacobs on the field.
Iowa Passing Chart - Clifford
Iowa Passing Chart - Roberson
- Sean Clifford: On Target - 13, Catchable - 2, Miss - 2, Uncatchable - 4, Throwaway/Batt - 4
- Ta'Quan Roberson: On Target - 6, Catchable - 1, Miss - 7, Uncatchable - 7
- The gameplan coming in was working. With Clifford in the game, PSU called a passing play on 28/34 plays. Those passing plays gained 193yds. The 6 run plays gained 15yds, but two were for TDs.
- PSU was getting 6.9ypp when a passing play was called. Overall getting 6.1ypp. There were 6 explosive (≥15yd passing call, ≥10 running) plays totaling 115yds. There were 10 additional successful plays (≥50% needed yards) totaling 70yds.
- Against an extremely good Iowa defense, PSU was moving the ball explosively and successfully. I loved the TE middle screen on the first TD drive that went for 15. PSU forced Iowa to play a lot more man coverage early on, which led to some good scrambles from Clifford. On the play Clifford was hurt, the pass was high but I think an on-balance Strange should go up and get that. I don't think he was planted and balanced when he jumped though. Overall, he had a day to forget.
- I don't really want to harp on the kid too much, but Roberson was not prepared. It makes me wonder if some 2020 & offseason rumors were true that he didn't prepare like a starter and put in the extra work off the field. The snap issue was something everyone saw and the postgame explanation was basically "we heard Sean fine, Ta'Quan was too quiet". He also called for a snap twice when he had receivers still moving to get set up, not being aware of his surroundings. A few times, I'm not sure he actually knew the play because he was staring at a WR either blocking or running an obvious decoy route.
- As for his passing, he had one on-target pass beyond the line of scrimmage that was dropped by Brenton Strange. He had another catchable (but behind) pass that was also dropped by Strange. He threw a pass to Dotson on a mesh route, before Dotson even cleared the mesh. He did the same thing vs Nova to Wilson. That's begging for an INT and he got lucky the defense was as surprised as Dotson. Beyond that, it was a stack of misses (1 high pass caught by CSB) and uncatchable balls. His screens were all on target (5/5), but beyond that he was 2/9 throwing catchable or better passes. On 4th down he threw behind a running Keyvone Lee who made an excellent 1 hand catch, but lost all momentum and couldn't get the shoulder down to push for the conversion. If that ball is good, that's a 1st down with Lee vs a CB to get 1 more yard on a drive the offense was actually having a bit of success. He missed quite a few open receivers that he didn't pass to, and on the final two drives threw 4 bad passes to wide open guys. That won't get it done anywhere.
- Did anyone notice that PSU again ran the tackle eligible play with Johnson at LT and Wallace at slot receiver? The pass was a screen to Dotson, who I believe was surprised because he had no blockers in front, before Johnson even cleared the LB. I struggle to believe that's how it was supposed to go.
- The running game wasn't great either, only explosive designed run was by Roberson, but there was only one carry for negative yardage so that's at least OK.
- The OL did a pretty good job in pass protection, and I'd need another watching (from sky cam) to know whether they had holes for the RB or not. After two watch throughs though, I think the RBs got was given to them for the most part and a bit more. They're still not going far beyond where the OL takes them though and that's a problem of it's own.
- Penalties killed. There were 9 offensive penalties for 45 yds. Caedan Wallace was the only OL that didn't have a false start. This isn't all on Roberson, but I do think he shares a decent chunk of the blame after 0 issues with Clifford. Miranda clearly wasn't hearing him while the OL around did. The way sound waves work, that makes sense because Miranda is the only player who doesn't have an earhole in direct line of QB's mouth due to being aligned directly in front. That's a topic for another day though.
- It's really hard to be very critical of a defense put in such a bad position. The average starting position on the 5 scoring drives was the 50yd line. Iowa had one drive with double digit plays (1st TD).
- PSU did give up two critical explosive plays though that in the end cost them the game. One screen where TCF missed a tackle and it went for 40+ and led to a FG (the first big screen vs PSU all season), and the brilliant backside TD to seal it. That long TD was perfectly designed. PSU had been absolutely blanketing the front side routes on every rollout all game, particularly the TE who has made a living all year on that play. On that play, the TE went out like a route but then stayed around the LoS to block. The WR ran a double move, looking like he'd run his route to play side but breaking backside once Brown turned his hips. Wide open and then it was a race to the pylon with a very fast player.
- One more Iowa praise, Spencer Petras can take a hit. That dude took big shots all game and still stepped into his throws. Heck, he stepped into a hit a few times and didn't even protect himself.
- The rest of the game was largely a defensive clinic. PSU lost the best DT, but held Iowa to 2.4ypc which is excellent defense. Coziah Izzard stepped up big time and did not look outmatched on the big stage and even made a few plays in the backfield.
- Curtis Jacobs is turning into the next great LB right before our eyes. And his 'backup' Daequan Hardy didn't get his usual snaps but made some plays while in there. As well as one that will be a lesson learned, if your head doesn't turn to find the ball you'll get a DPI even if it's the WR grabbing you.
- Stout averaged 50yds per punt and 47yds per FG, plus every kickoff went for a touchback. He didn't have the field position to be putting his punts inside the 10 like Iowa guy, but he showed the distance.
- Every time Iowa punted past the 50, PSU had the defense out on the field prepared for a fake. That limited any return possibility, but there weren't any with the way that guy punted.
- CB Kalen King #4 (6 games) - redshirt burned
- LB Kobe King #41 (4 games)
- LB Jamari Buddin #42 (3 games)
- S Jaylen Reed #7 (3 games)
- WR Tre Wallace #85 (2 games)
- CB Kaleb Brown #30 (2 games)
- LB Dominic Deluca #34 (2 games) - special teams only
- CB Zakee Wheatley #6 (1 game)