Scouting Report: Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa is 3-0 heading into the matchup at home against the Nittany Lions. Last week, Iowa defeated North Texas 31-14. The Hawkeyes were tested on the road against rival Iowa State in week two, but they came away victorious 44-41 in overtime.
The last four night games that the Hawkeyes hosted there was one thing in common: Iowa came away with a victory, including last season against then third-ranked Michigan, 14-13. The last time Penn State played Iowa on the road at night, Penn State pounded Iowa 38-14 following Penn State losses at night in 2008 and 2010.
Coming into this 2017 season, Iowa was undecided on a quarterback. After a competition in camp, Nathan Stanley was crowned the winner. So far this season, Stanley has been solid, leading an offense that has been averaging 33 points and 398 yards per game. Stanley has 51 completions on 83 attempts with 655 yards, including 10 touchdowns and only one interception.
The sophomore quarterback shined when he led a comeback against Iowa State, throwing for 5 touchdowns in a rivalry game on the road. Stanley will be the first quarterback that Penn State will face this season that can dissect this Penn State secondary and make them pay for mistakes.
At running back for the Hawkeyes is the explosive Akrum Wadley. This season, Wadley has 410 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Last season though, the senior running back rushed for over 1,000 yards. Part of the reason his production might be a little down this season is the plethora of running backs behind him. James Butler and Toren Young are both solid backs and would be starters on most college football teams around the country.
For Iowa this week though, running back is a question mark. Both Wadley and Butler went down with injuries against North Texas. Wadley will play against Penn State, but it is unknown if he will be 100 percent. Butler on the other hand will be out until Oct. 21. The Iowa backfield is a very deep position group on an Iowa team that Penn State will have to contain in order to defeat Iowa.
Nick Easley is the surprise leading receiver for the Hawkeyes this season. Easley joined the team in the spring as a walk on and now he is the leading receiver for Iowa through three games. He has 16 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Akrum Wadley is the second leading receiver for the Hawkeyes.
The offensive line position for Iowa is traditionally a strength of any Iowa team. This year the unit is still good, but they are not as talented as years past. North Texas was able to put a lot of pressure on Stanley in the first half.
The Iowa offensive line is struggling to get to the second level and North Texas caused havoc for Iowa with backside pursuit meaning that the Hawkeyes need to sustain blocks longer. This offensive line will be going against a Penn State defensive line that is getting a lot of criticism for their play so far this season, so the battle in the trenches will be interesting in this game.
The defense line for Iowa is led by defensive end Parker Hesse. The junior has 14 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception so far this season. His forced fumble against North Texas came during a sack when North Texas was still in the game.
Hesse also showed the versatility to make a tackle behind the line on a running back that caught a screen pass. Hesse is definitely someone Penn State’s offensive line needs to keep contained at all times, as Hesse has proven he can make big plays that can change the momentum of games.
Iowa returns all three starting linebackers from last season, Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann and Bo Bower. Although these three linebackers have lots of experience, the rest of the linebacking core has zero starts combined. The Hawkeyes are strong at the linebacker position, but lack depth which might be a problem when trying to slow down Saquon Barkley and the rest of the Penn State offense.
The Iowa secondary is very young and inexperienced. The group features two first time starters, Jake Gervase and Michael Ojemudia, and two freshman, Matt Hankins and Geno Stone. Penn State will look to test these Iowa defenders with lots of one on one situations and it will be paramount for Iowa’s secondary to win these moments in order to stand a chance against Penn State.
Ben Ferree is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.