Iowa threw on first down a few times in the game. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. It is always important to get at least three or four yards on first down and that is certainly the case with this year's Hawkeyes. 2nd and 10 is longer this year than in most years.
Iowa ran a play early where Fred Russell lined up in the slot and went in motion in a looping fashion towards the backfield where he would normally be lined up. They gave the ball to Cervantes, who was the lone set, but faked the reverse to Russell. Keep that one in mind down the road.
On Howard Hodges sack in the 1st quarter, he took PSU's LT to town. He gave him an outside rush, then faked an inside move that the tackle bought, and then Howard went back outside and shoved the LT inside and got to Robinson. Nice, nice play.
Tony Jackson made a spectacular catch on Iowa's second possession, the best of his career. Chandler did a good job of looking left, which froze the free safety. Then he came back to the right and hit Jackson on a seam, and the FS got there as Jackson caught the ball. Nice catch and nice look off by Nathan.
On the INT for a TD, PSU #15 blizted on that play, which made it next to impossible for Tony Jackson to block him, as that was his assignment on the play. Chandler looked to his right at first to freeze the LB's, and then just came back left and threw not imagining that #15 would be there. He was.
#15 got about five yards past Chandler before Nathan got up to speed in the pursuit. Chandler did not close on him, but he kept that five-yard gap all the way down the field. Some say that Nathan is not as fast as Brad Banks. He is not as shifty as Brad, but I think Nathan would win a 40-yard dash between the two. I felt that way before this play and still do.
On Iowa's next possession, the Hawkeyes were in a 3rd and 11. Chandler threw a dart to Calvin Davis over the middle that would have been a 15-yard completion and a first down. Davis dropped it. In fairness to Calvin, he was only able to practice one day this week due to injury.
On PSU's next drive, Bob Sanders made the hit on the running back that forced the fumble. It would have been a first down for Penn State near the Iowa 40, but the ball landed in Abdul Hodge's hands and he returned the ball to the PSU 15 yard line. A personal foul on Matt Roth brought the ball back to the PSU 30.
Chandler called a lot of audibles on the day, most of them were the stretch play to the right side of the line and most of them worked.
On their fifth drive of the game, the drive that was set up by the Hodge fumble return, Iowa had a 3rd and 10 situation that got worse with an illegal procedure call. So it was 3rd and 15.
The play that was called looked a lot like the play that Iowa ran in the 4th quarter to Edgar Cervantes on 3rd and 18 that he caught for a 21 yard gain. All of the WR's ran go routes, clearing the underneath. It worked in the 4th quarter. On this play, the LB picked up Cervantes. Chandler looked for him right away when he came out of the backfield. So Nathan's primary target was covered.
Chandler then looked right, looked middle, then saw Holloway on the left sideline. That is key right there. Nathan made the choice to throw the sideline option, with just one DB in coverage. And he threw it where only Holloway could catch it. Warren ran into the end zone, then came back to where the ball was thrown. That was a VERY GOOD football play right there. Warren was the only guy that could have made a play there, and he did.
Iowa quickly called a play and caught PSU napping. The play was a run play to the left, as the RG was pulling and Fred looked at Nathan as if to say ‘What are you doing?'. Chandler and Melloy were on the same page, and Melloy caught the ball and scored. Another heady play.
The ABC team called it good planning and scheming. Maybe, if Iowa had noticed that on films. But I think it was just a good adjustment on the fly.
On the kickoff, the PSU returner caught the ball one yard deep, came out, stopped, then started again. Bad move. Greenway had first contact there and PSU had the ball at their six.
After yet another three and out, PSU had to punt. They would not record a first down until 7:25 to go in the first half.
On Iowa's 6th possession, Chandler had a nice 19 yard scramble. He saw that is receivers were not covered and Cervantes got just enough of a block on a blitzing player to keep him outside, Nathan stepped up in the pocket and then was off to the races. Nathan tried to pump fake a would be tackler after he was 12 yards past the line of scrimmage. That was pretty funny.
Later in that drive, Iowa faced a 3rd and nine and Chandler hit Calvin Davis for a nice 15-yard gainer. Davis was his primary, and there was a great passing lane for him to throw into.
On Chandler's TD pass to Ochoa, he was under HEAVY duress from PSU #92 and 47. Each player hit him just after he released the ball, leaning backwards: 92 from the right and 47 from the left. The throw was low, but Nathan threw the ball where only Ochoa could catch it and that he got that pass off knowing he was going to get pounded was just a great play. Ochoa made one of the hardest catches a receiver can make, on the shoestrings, and scored. Nice play all around.
Iowa faked a PAT on the next play, and Tony Jackson missed a block on PSU #15. Jackson floated to the outside pressure on that play, then saw that #15 did not drift outside. By then it was too late.
On PSU's next possession, and we are talking around the seven to eight minute mark of the 2nd Q here, Mills ran an option with his fullback. Not sure why they did that. Abdul Hodge shot up the middle like a bullet and forced Mills to pitch it. Several Hawkeyes got to the FB, including Sanders who hammered him and forced another fumble, but the FB recovered it.
PSU had to punt, again. During that commercial break, they showed a replay of Doug Fluties Hail Mary against Miami from years gone by. The original line of scrimmage on that play was about midfield. Flutie was rushed and sent back to his 34, then stepped up and threw the ball from his own 36 and the ball was caught on the goal line. What a freaking throw. I remember watching that one live. It still amazes me.
Now, back to the game.
Here is some clock management criticism. After going three and out on their 7th possession, Iowa punted the ball and PSU took over at their own 25 with 3:06 left. They threw an incomplete on first down, Greenway got a sack on second down forcing Mills out of bounds and then PSU completed a short pass on third down. There was 2:53 to go in the 2nd Q and Iowa had all three timeouts left.
But Iowa did not call a timeout and they got the ball back with just 1:57 to play. Basically there were 40 wasted seconds there.
Iowa got the ball on their own 30. On the first play, they called a shotgun draw. Chandler gained eight, and a better block by Calvin Davis could have sprung him to the outside for five or ten more yards and would have allowed him to get out of bounds. But Iowa had to call timeout with 1:34 to go. Not sure why it took that long to call timeout, either.
On the next play, again in shot gun, Sam Aiello missed a block and his man got a sack. Sam was not happy with himself on that play, and he should not have been. It was poor footwork that beat him.
Later in the drive on third down, Calvin Davis ran his route two yards short of the first down, which caused Iowa to call a TO and consider a 58 yard field goal attempt by Kaeding with 19 seconds to go.
I agree with the play call there to punt the ball. PSU had done very little on offense at that point…just three first downs. You don't want to let them get a chance on blocking the field goal attempt, something they have done very well the past several years and they already blocked a PAT on the day and would nearly block another one later. And on a 58-yard kick, those attempts have a tendency to be low.
In the first half, PSU was 0-5 on third downs on six possessions, plus they had the fumble that Hodge caught. Iowa was 5 of 10. PSU had just 42 total yards in the first half.
Iowa blocked a PSU punt for a touchdown on their first possession of the 2nd half. They moved Sanders inside from his gunner position to see if he could get a block off of the edge. Greenway and Edmond Miles came in through the middle and Greenway got there first.
In the third quarter, Lynn Swan said that Sanders reminds him of Donnie Shell. That is a nice mention there.
Penn State's first drive into Iowa territory came with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. They put together a nice drive there, but came away with nothing when they missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.
One criticism of Chandler on the day is that he tends to hold onto the ball too long and that limits YAC (Yards after the Catch) number for his receivers. But to his credit, he scans the field and goes down his progressions and that can have an impact on crossing routes.
On Iowa's 2nd possession of the third Q, Fred Russell was dropped for a five yard loss deep in PSU territory. It could have been 2nd and 15 then, but PSU was called for a five-yard facemask, making it 1st and five at the Iowa 13. That was a 10 yard turnaround for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa eventually scored on a Chandler sneak over the left side, and the Iowa coaches were trying to call timeout on that play.
Jovon Johnson was called for pass interference in the 2nd half. He was trying to make a play on the ball and almost did. Not sure why he was called for that one. However, he hit his man too early on a previous third down conversion for PSU that failed, and that could have been PI but it was not called and Paterno was all over the officials.
Cervantes fumble late in the game was a great strip. Edgar did have both arms around the ball.
PSU would score on a flare pass to RB Scott. Steen injured his ankle on that play. It didn't look bad. I hope that it is just a sprain. Jermire Roberts replaced Steen at the Leo position the rest of the day.
On Iowa's next possession, Russell gained 11 on first down but it was wiped away due to holding, so it was first and 17 on the Iowa 13. Russell got the call and gained 5, then the next play was where Pete McMahon stepped on Chandler's foot, causing him to fall, and Nathan tried to flip the ball to Russell. Not smart. Nathan recovered that fumble, and it was 3rd and 18 from the Iowa 12.
Iowa ran a play where three receivers ran go routes, and this time, Cervantes was uncovered underneath and was able to gain 21-yards.
That was a huge play in the game, because it allowed Iowa to eat another 2:30 off of the clock to start the 4th quarter and it allowed Bradley to not have to punt out of his own end zone.