Our highs and lows from Penn State's 41-14 win over Iowa at Beaver Stadium.
THE HIGH FIVE
Floor It: Penn State once again came out fast, scoring on its opening drive for the third time in the last four games. This time it was Saeed Blacknall who grabbed his first touchdown catch of the year to ignite the White Out crowd. http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1719381-psu-fans-now-get-s...
One-Two Punch: The combination of Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders once again created a lot of different looks on the ground (and at times through the air) that kept the Iowa defense guessing, particularly with their quarterback in the mix. Barkley is just a powder keg that can go off at any moment for big gains like his 57-yard TD run.
Big Mac: Speaking of QB Trace McSorley, yes, he needs to take care of himself better (more on that later) on runs, but he opens up a lot of opportunities for the offense and the running backs. In a lot of ways, he took over the game at times with his feet, evading the defense to make big plays through the air and on the ground.
Homemade Stuffing: Penn State's defensive front time and again stuffed the Hawkeyes on third and fourth down, which served as drive killers. Linebacker Jason Cabinda had two massive plays on a fourth down over the top stop and a third and two, while Brandon Smith and Evan Schwan shut down a third and one.
Get Offensive: Joe Moorhead's offense was firing on all cylinders for much of the night -- generally speaking, it's explosive, efficient, effective and eclectic, which also means it's very entertaining. Operating at different speeds, and getting big plays from the ground attack and air attack makes this unit very difficult to defend.
Wrap It Up: We've been critical of the fundamentals when it comes to PSU's tackling through much of the season, with high hits and sloppy technique, but in this game there was widespread improvement on the takedowns — with some blistering hits and solid wrap.
Plug It: The Lion defensive front contained Iowa's rushing game to a mere 30 yards — a ground attack that averaged 168 yards per outing coming in.
Line Dancing: Hats off to an offensive line that has made huge strides as the season's progressed. In this game the big uglies blocked for 599 total yards on 70 plays and dominated the trenches much of the evening, giving up one sack on a missed assignment.
Hold On: PSU did a masterful job of protecting the ball in a lunch pail style, physical game with no turnovers on the night. That is always a huge advantage.
THE LOW THREE
Sloppy Joes: Penn State had a series of messy penalties including — two face ask grabs, a kick-catch interference call and twp roughing the passers (which seemed marginal at best). Bottom line is Lions had nine flags for 86 yards, something that needs to be cleaned up.
Without a Trace: As we said earlier, McSorely had another big game performance to spark the offense and keep another defense on its heels. But in the process the young quarterback took a lot of hits. He has to do a better job protecting himself, as does Tommy Stevens. This also falls on the coaches.
Nice Tip: OK, it didn't have much bearing on the game, but the Lions had their second blocked field goal of the season. This just something that the kicking unit has to nail down as it comes into the final turn of the season.