Brent Pry, take a bow. John Scott Jr, take a bow. Anthony Poindexter, take a bow. Terry Smith, take a bow. Now get behind the players because those guys on defense played awesome. It was more of what they've done all year, but without any breakdowns.
Offensive Snap Counts (total 86):
- QB: Clifford (81), Roberson (5)
- RB: Cain (27), Lee (23), Lovett (31), Ford (15)
- WR: Dotson (72), Washington (63), KLS (58), CSB (22), Wilson (9), Eubanks (1)
- TE: Strange (55), Johnson (40), Warren (13)
- OL: Walker (86), Wilson (86), Miranda (86), Scruggs (86), Wallace (86), Holmes (1)
- Not much more to be gleaned that hasn't been said in the prior four games, but Devyn Ford did get a drive at the end of Q2. He got the same thing vs Wisconsin & Villanova, so it might be the plan if they're going to initially attempt a fast drive into scoring range to have him in their as pass protector/route runner, but after the initial deep pass to KLS failed he got two consecutive handoffs.
- The only reserve OL to see the field was Des Holmes as an extra OL in the Tyler Warren goal line package.
- DE: Ebiketie (48), Luketa (31), Tarburton (25), Vilbert (11), Fisher (4)
- DT: Mustipher (38), Tangelo (31), Ellies (22), Izzard (11), Mulbah (4)
- LB: Brooks (55), Smith (47), Jacobs (28), Katshir (8), King (4), Elsdon (4), Buddin (4)
- CB: TCF (48), JPJ (43), Hardy (27), Dixon (23), King (4)
- S: Brisker (55), Brown (43), Ellis (16), Sutherland (15)
Defensive Personnel Takeaways:
- A bit more to glean from the defensive side. The longest defensive drive of the day was 8 (Brown INT) and on the entire game the average was only 4.5 plays per drive. The defense should be well rested for Iowa.
- For the first time this season, PSU used a 3 DE formation on the opening drive (and didn't use it again). Nick Tarburton entered the game for Derrick Tangelo and lined up as a 3t with Ebiketie & Luketa as the DEs.
- Keaton Ellis is officially the backup S. Sutherland only entered the game in the 3-2-6 dime package until garbage time.
- Charlie Katshir is the only trusted backup LB, so Brandon Smith gets a couple breaks per game. Ellis Brooks does not, though I do think Katshir could play that spot too. I imagine it has something to do with being 'defensive playcaller'.
- Johnny Dixon got the non-garbage CB reps over Kalen King this week, including on PSU's redzone stand after the INT. I wonder if Kalen biting so hard on the double move vs 'Nova played a role in them seemingly swapping spots.
Indinia Passing Chart
- Sean Clifford: On Target - 18, Catchable - 5, Miss - 4, Uncatchable - 7
- Jahan Dotson: Catchable - 1
- Sean Clifford is really, really good at the scramble drill in 2021. Two of his TDs vs IU, one vs Nova, and one vs Auburn were passes while he was scrambling. He's very good at knowing where the line is, running right up to it, and dumping it over the closing defender's head. The way Iowa plays downhill, this could work vs them as well. This wasn't his best game but he played well enough to win. That INT though, needs to see that one in the film room a few times because that's how Iowa baits INTs with a zone safety.
- Noah Cain is hurt. He might not be 'injured' but he's playing hurt for sure and it shows. Even motioning from WR spot into the backfield showed he wasn't at 100% and his play with the ball showed more. Keyvone Lee is the best RB when he's hitting the hole fast, but sometimes he dances and doesn't have the Barkley acceleration to get back to full speed from that. John Lovett played fine, but nothing popped this game. Ford is the go-to in 2RB sets as the blocker, which is wild because he's the smallest of the four.
- When PSU runs outside, it's running left. This week was even more stark with 12 outside left runs vs 3 outside right. Rasheed Walker is the reason. One of those runs got stuffed at the goal line on 4th down, but that was due to Strange getting shed like a snake's old skin. The OL (+ Theo Johnson) overwhelmed IU to where there were only two defenders for two blockers and the play still failed.
- PSU ran a bit more power with a pulling OG in this game, and rather than Scruggs they used Wilson. I don't think Wilson is the athlete of Scruggs but he did a better job finding his guy under control and sealing the hole, which led to the big run.
- In the first four games PSU had 9 explosive (≥ 10yds) runs for 160yds. This past Saturday they had 5 for 103, easily their best game in that regard.
- The passing game was the least explosive of the season with 6 for 123yds (≥ 15yds). It sure seemed like the plan going in was to establish the run, and the way IU played led to more of it.
- Jahan Dotson, as consistently good as it gets. Parker Washington had a game to forget though. Two drops early and the target on the INT (not his fault). He wasn't targeted after that though likely not intentional. Clifford just wasn't able to get in a groove with KLS, with a pair of big misses on deep balls to him.
- The TEs did a lot with a little. Brenton Strange scored a TD (or two) and Theo Johnson had a big 20yd gain where he did most of the work. Speaking of the Strange not-a-TD, refs actually got it right. My read is that Strange was aligned improperly, too far forward, because on a shovel pass the wing alignment allows a guy to get behind the OL more quickly than in-line alignment. Also, he never put his hand in the dirt like an in-line TE, so I think he just set his feet about a half yard to forward and was thus covered up by Dotson on the outside.
- PSU showed some serious tempo again. They forced an IU timeout on the first Dotson TD drive and tried it again to start Q3, though it fizzled out.
- Pry sent pressure all game vs Penix and really relied on his DBs to cover without a lot of help, though the goal was to reduce the time they had to cover. This led directly to JPJ's INT where Luketa hit Penix and forced the poor throw.
- Quick change defense was excellent after the PSU INT. They stood on their heads that series and Indiana couldn't do anything.
- YOU CAN NOT SCREEN PSU. Indiana tried, and failed. Other teams (ahem Maryland ahem) will try and fail as well. The PSU DBs are too good at tackling and too physical to attempt evenly matched screens. And if the DBs don't make the tackle, one of those outside LBs is going to be on top of it before the offensive player has made his way past 3yds.
- There was a fun sequence by Curtis Jacobs in the 2nd quarter. On 1st down he follows the RB all the way out to the sideline pre-snap and is practically playing CB. The very next play he knocks the RB backwards when he tried to cut backside and finished the tackle off for no gain. That's what I like to see from the SAM, a guy who can do both.
- I'd like to see PSU get even more pressure on the QB, but teams have shown a healthy respect for the pass rush and made quick passes a priority. Jack Tuttle missed that memo when he was napping in the back of the QB meeting room and got reminded of it quite forcefully when Arnold Ebiketie said hello and welcome to the show.
- PJ Mustipher made himself some money. That is all.
Special Teams Analysis:
- Jordan Stout, very good. Disappointing that he had one kickoff only to the 1yd line (still fair caught, likely due to surprise) but then he had a kickoff go through the uprights so that seems pretty good.
- Oh and he had a through the uprights kick that counted too, from 50.
True Freshman Redshirt Tracker:
- CB Kalen King #4 (5 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)