I apologize for the lack of postings this week, I’ve been extremely busy with real world stuff. Not to mention the fact that I’m scrambling to get Part One of my basketball preview finished. Look for that to be up Sunday afternoon, right around when the Fighting DeChellises tip off in their lone exhibition against Bloomsburg.
In the meantime, it’s time to better know this week’s opponent: The Iowa Black Heart Gold Pants
LAST TIME AROUND: October 6, 2007. The Nittany Lions were fresh off back-to-back WTF losses at Michigan and Illinois respectively and the calls for Anthony Morelli’s head had reached a fever pitch after Morelli had made costly fuck-up after costly fuck-up in the previous two losses. As if that wasn’t bad enough, starting tailback Austin Scott had been kicked off the team following a rape charge that would later be dismissed.
This however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the Nittany Nation was introduced that day to Evan Royster and his 86 yards rushing before Royster got injured, bringing in Rodney Kinlaw to clean up and finish with 168 yards and 2 TDs himself. Morelli did throw a couple interceptions but also had some brilliant long bomb connections to his wideouts, including a beatiful TD strike to Derrick Williams and another one to Chris Bell that was dropped in the end zone. The defense was its usual dominant self, holding Iowa to 194 total offensive yards, including a measley 48 yards rushing. The end result was a 27-7 shellacking by the good guys.
Shonn Greene is the leader of the pack, hitting the centennial mark in rushing yards for each one of his games this season and inspiring yet another lame idea for an “insert color here”-out. He has been a nightmare for opposing defenses thus far and that won’t change this weekend either. However, if the PSU defense can successfully stack 8 guys and take away the power running game like they did with Beanie Wells at Ohio State, they should be able to negate Greene enough to the point where he’s not consistently ripping off huge chunks of yardage.
Such a focus on stopping the run though could lead to us being susceptible to some big throws via QB Ricky Stanzi, better known as “The Stanz.”
The Stanz relieved the ineffective Jake Christensen earlier in the year and along with Shonn Greene’s emergence, also helped ignite a passing attack that had laid dormant most of the season. His numbers are not eye-popping though as he’s only thrown for 200+ yards once this year and additionally has been susceptible to making mistakes as evidenced by his 6 INTs to go along with his 9 TD passes. This is surprising given that he’s got a couple of quality receivers in Andy Brodell and Derell Johnson-Koulianos. The key for PSU’s defense will be getting pressure on Stanzi and forcing him to run for his life and make a bad throw or two. That seemed to work wonders for the Illini last week.
Very comparable to OSU. The Hawkeyes rank in the Top 10 in scoring defense in the country, anchored by D-lineman Mitch King and his 11 tackles for loss, including 3 sacks. No doubt they are going to try to negate Evan Royster to start the game so Daryll Clark had best be ready to start throwing a few deep balls to keep the defense honest and give Royster a little breathing room. Fortunately, Iowa’s secondary does feature a weak spot according to BHGP:
The only weakness, week-in and week-out, is free safety Brett Greenwood, who is attacked mercilessly by smart coordinators and seems to be perpetually out of position against the deep ball down the sideline.
Speaking of running games: It sure would be nice to see a return of Stephfvan Roygreen this weekend…Though I’m not going to hold my breath on it. There, now go out and prove me wrong!
Given the defensive nature of this game (and the predicted “Big Ten weather conditions” of cold, breezy, and a mix of snow/rain), kicking will be ultra-important. Kevin Kelly’s clutchness we’re all well aware of by now, so we’ll skip that. Iowa’s field goal kicking game leaves something else to be desired though as Trent Mossbrucker (sounds like Brent Musberger’s alter ego) while 13/15 on the year has a long of only 39 yards.
Return-wise, Andy Brodell does have a punt return for a TD on the year. This is easily trumped however by Derrick Williams’ 3 special teams TDs (2 on kickoffs, one on a punt). As always, any team that punts the ball straight to D-Will should have its punter and coaching staff take a mandatory IQ test.
This game will resemble the classic, rough-and-tumble, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, Big Ten football that us longtime followers were used to. Iowa’s defense will be stingy enough to prevent PSU’s offense from exploding and should keep this game close throughout. However, the Hawkeyes appear to have a disturbing inability to win close games, as their 4 losses this season have occurred by a combined 12 points. Additionally, The Stanz showed us last week against Illinois that while he has the ability to lead his team down the field, he also carries the ability to shoot his team in the foot at critical moments. Look for that to be the difference-maker as PSU pulls away in the fourth quarter following a costly mistake by The Stanz.
Penn State 24, Iowa 13.