Penn State Attempts to End Skid Against Hawkeyes

Story posted October 7, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Esse

After sliding by the Indiana Hoosiers in their Big Ten opener 16-10, the Penn State Nittany Lion football team (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) looks to improve its Big Ten record to 2-0 this weekend against Iowa (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten). Historically however, Joe Paterno and his Penn State teams have not had much success against Hawkeyes while Kirk Ferentz has been at the helm.

Iowa is 8-1 in the last nine meetings against the Lions and have won the past 3 meetings, including last years 24-3 win in Iowa City. In that matchup Penn State was unable to produce against the Hawkeye defense, but with the loss of three defensive starters the Iowa defense hasn’t had too hot of a start to the 2011 season which can be an advantage for the Penn State offense.

Even though Paterno hasn’t named a starting quarterback, Matt McGloin should be seeing more snaps under center against Iowa due to his recent performances in the last three games. McGloin had 204 passing yards against Indiana, and a repeat performance will put the Lions in a good position to win against the 73rd ranked defense in yards allowed.

Silas Redd will also be important to the Nittany Lion offensive attack on Saturday if he can continue to break out of his rushing slump as he did against Indiana. Redd had 129 yards against the Hoosiers and has a statistical advantage over the slumping Iowa rush defense. Redd will need to be able to add on touchdowns to his yard total in order to have a big impact in a very pivotal Big Ten game.

Despite having over 400 yards of offense against Indiana, the Lions were unable to convert from inside the 30 and had to settle for three field goals by Anthony Fera. Iowa is the 53rd ranked defense in points allowed, but not being able to convert long drives into touchdowns will hurt Penn State against Iowa’s explosive offense. 

After losing star quarterback Ricky Stanzi to the NFL, junior James Vandenberg has filled Stanzi’s shoes very well for Farentz and the Hawkeyes. Vandenberg’s 1,095 passing yards and 10 touchdowns have contributed to the 2nd ranked offense in the Big Ten. Vandenberg also ranks 3rd in passing efficiency in the Big Ten and commands an offense that averages over 400 yards and 38 points a game.

This weekend will be a true test for the Hawkeyes as they have only faced one defense in the top 35 in points against thus far this season and their opponent for this weekend is ranked seventh. Injuries have slightly plagued the Nittany Lion defense, but didn’t seem to slow them down against Indiana last weekend.

The key for the Lions will be to limit Vandenberg’s passing game and force Marcus Coker to step up for Iowa in the running game. Coker hasn’t had an impressive sophomore season thus far with only 380 yards and four touchdowns. Slowing down Vandenberg would allow Devon Still, Jack Crawford and the defense do what they do best in stopping the run without their leader Michael Mauti.

As for Penn State’s secondary, D’Anton Lynn is still listed as questionable after beating carted off the field two weeks ago against Eastern Michigan and his replacement, Stephon Morris, is also battling an injury. The Lions will have to look to seniors Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino to lead the defense in stopping the Iowa passing attack.

It will be Penn State’s ability to have consistency in the red zone and stopping the Hawkeye passing attack that will determine if Joe Paterno can get his second win against the Hawkeyes in the past 10 years. A win Saturday would not only make the Lions 2-0 in the Big Ten, but could possibly give Paterno and his team the momentum they have been looking for since week one.

The game will be broadcast live from Beaver Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on ComRadio. Tune in at 2:30 for the Pregame Show.

 

Mike Esse is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email mje5164@psu.edu.