So, did anyone else need a cigarette after watching such a satisfying revenge beatdown? Well, light ‘em up, as we dish out our grades...
After a rather pedestrian showing at Illinois last weekend, Drew Allar stepped up under the White Out Lights, delivering four touchdown passes, including a couple of absolute bullets to the end zone. I know there was a lot of complaining from fans on the Internets about the lack of downfield shots, but it seems like that was due to Iowa’s defense attempting to take those deep balls away and hope that Allar would get impatient enough to take a deep shot anyway, which is when they would pounce and get an interception.
Drew however, continues to do an excellent job of just taking what the defense gives him, even if it’s just short/medium-range passes, as the stat line of 25-for-37 and 166 yards for 4 TD’s best illustrates. Beau Pribula even got in on the action, putting up 71 total yards, only five yards shy of the total amount Iowa’s entire offense put up (76).
Running Back: B+
Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton did not light up the stat sheet, but they both ran efficiently and picked up enough chunks of yardage to help the PSU offense stay on schedule. As Iowa’s defense began to wear down over the course of the game, you saw those 2-3 yard gains become 4-5, and later 6-8, and so on. Unfortunately, since neither of them reached the end zone, I can’t justify giving the running backs an ‘A’ grade, but B-plus is still pretty darned good.
Wide Receiver: B
KeAndre Lambert-Smith had himself a night, catching eight balls for 66 yards and a TD. For the second straight week however, he had a boneheaded penalty, negating a first down by face-masking his defender after the catch. It was rather quiet from the receiving corps from people other than KLS, with Liam Clifford and Dante Cephas being the only other two wideouts to garner a reception. If there’s one thing that concerns me about the offense at the moment, it’s the lack of a solid No. 2 guy in the receiving corps. Tre Wallace seemed like he was that guy before his injury and hopefully, he will get that back once he’s back to 100 percent, or someone else steps up in his absence.
Tight End: A
Did the tight ends have themselves a night, or what? Theo Johnson was the leading receiver with six catches for 42 yards, but Tyler Warren caught a pair of TD’s in the end zone, and Khalil Dinkins grabbed PSU’s first TD of the night, an absolutely critical 4th and 1 conversion with PSU still clinging to a 3-0 lead.
Offensive Line: A
After struggling against Illinois last week, the O-line held their own against a tough Iowa front, giving Allar plenty of time in the pocket to find the open receiver, or giving a hole for the running backs to go through. Their job certainly got a lot easier as the game wore on and Iowa’s defense was absolutely gassed from being on the field for so long.
Defensive Line: A+
Maryland is known for two things: Crab cakes and Chop Robinson. Chop led the way in bringing the pressure with a pair of QB hurries, along with a strip-sack that gave PSU short field position to further tack on to their 24-0 lead. Adisa Isaac and Dani Dennis-Sutton also had a sack each, and DDS also had a critical forced fumble on Iowa’s most promising drive of the game, knocking the ball out of tight end Erick All’s hands just before he hit the ground inside PSU’s red zone.
When your opponent only ends up playing 33 offensive snaps, you’ll get weird stats like Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter being co-leading tacklers with just three each. Jacobs recovered the early Iowa fumble that led to a PSU field goal, while Dominic DeLuca also forced a fumble and had a pass breakup. Along with the D-line, the linebackers played a huge role in holding Iowa to just 20 total yards rushing.
The near-complete lack of downfield shots by Iowa QB Cade McNamara meant that there wasn’t much action from the secondary. This is not a bad thing, at all.
Special Teams: B
Alex Felkins nailed a critical 46-yard field goal to put PSU on the board 3-0, making sure the fumble recovery wasn’t in vain. He did have a shorter field goal blocked, which was negated by a “leaping” penalty against Iowa, and he missed on a 43-yarder, but that was with the game already in hand with PSU up 31-0. Nobody is perfect, but as long as he is only missing when the stakes are at their lowest, that’s totally fine with me.
Kaden Saunders had a couple of questions decisions at punt returning, fielding one inside the five (although it seemed like perhaps the ball wasn’t going to reach the end zone, so he had no choice), and muffing another one, which he was very fortunate to recover and not allow Iowa a momentum-shifting recovery.
Riley Thompson continues to be underwhelming at punter, averaging less than 38 yards on his four punts. Kudos to Riley however, for landing one of his punts right off the back of an unassuming Iowa player, leading to a muffed recovery and ultimately, to PSU’s first TD of the game.
The first drive for PSU when they were backed up near their end zone featured some questionable calls, especially trying to throw a screen pass to Kaytron Allen, which nearly saw him get tackled for safety. That being said, it became clear as the game went on, that the coaching staff wanted to beat Iowa at their own game and grind it out on them with a combination of Mike Yurcich calling runs and short/medium pass plays, since Iowa was adamant about taking away the deep passing routes.
Meanwhile, Manny Diaz’s guys on the defensive side had their best performance yet, holding the Hawkeyes to just 76 total offensive yards. Patrick and I were talking about this last night on our postgame show, but as incompetent as Iowa may be offensively, being held to under a hundred total yards is a result of lights-out defense.
All in all, it was a game plan that James Franklin and his staff were able to execute to a ‘T’ after a couple hiccups to start.
[BONUS CATEGORY] Crowd: A+++
Despite the weather, Beaver Stadium saw its second-largest ever attended game with an announced crowd of 110,830. The White Out crowd looked and sounded as loud on the CBS broadcast as I imagine it must’ve looked/sounded to those who attended in person. It really felt like the demons of the 2009 Iowa White Out game were exorcised over the course of three hours last night.