Strong Effort by Defense Not Enough

Overall, Tom Bradley's crew played well vs. Iowa. But it could not compensate for errors by the Penn State offense.

Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick settled onto a stool in the Beaver Stadium media room after Saturday's 21-10 loss to Iowa, the vacant expression on his face saying much more than he chose to.

Someone asked him how much this one hurt.

“A lot,” he said.

There was an awkward silence, then a more general query about the mood in the locker room.

“We shoulda won,” Odrick said. “They were better than us today. … We didn't execute some plays we needed to execute.”

There was a little more, and then Odrick was gone. Much like the game, in which the defense played gallantly before sagging under the burden placed upon it by the mistake-prone offense.

Iowa, which scored via a safety and a blocked punt, earned its offensive points on mini-drives of 37, 25 and 24 yards. The first of those led to a first-half field goal. The second set up another field goal, with eight seconds left in the game.

The 24-yarder came after linebacker Pat Angerer returned a fourth-quarter interception of Daryll Clark 38 yards, leading to Adam Robinson's 13-yard touchdown run. That extended the Hawkeyes' lead to 18-10 with 8:32 left, and was pretty much all she wrote, given PSU's offensive struggles.

“I think we did play a strong game defensively, as did they, obviously,” Joe Paterno said. “The only difference is, they came up with some turnovers, and the blocked punt. “

The Hawkeyes had four takeaways, three of them interceptions of Clark. The Lions picked Ricky Stanzi off twice, and allowed just 298 yards -- nine fewer than the PSU offense gained.

Still, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said, “I felt we could have done a better job today than we did.”

A better job on third down, he said. A better job against screens and shorter patterns.

Middle linebacker Josh Hull had 13 tackles. So too did outside 'backer Navorro Bowman, who before Saturday had played just a handful of plays in the season opener because of a groin pull.

Bowman said he was “pretty sore,” and that the injury was still in the back of his mind.

“Hopefully,” he said, “I can be a step faster and a step better next week.”

The Lions were, as expected, without the other outside 'backer, Sean Lee, who sat out with a sprained knee. And after the first quarter, they were without an offense. But as Odrick said, “We've all got to move forward as a unit and not point fingers.”

So all the defenders talked about what they could have done better. How, maybe, they could have been a little more stout at the point of attack, seeing as Iowa ran for 163 yards on 37 carries. Robinson picked up 88 on 19 rushes, Brandon Wegher 73 on 14.

“Those guys know what they're doing,” Bowman said. “They don't try to do too much. They do what they do best.”

The Hawkeyes were without star tackle Bryan Bulaga (undisclosed illness), and Lions defensive end Eric Latimore did not seem terribly impressed by the guys who did play along the Iowa front, saying they were “like every other offensive line.”

“We just got outplayed, I guess,” Latimore said. “They were doing basic plays. It came down to who wanted it more. I guess they wanted it more.”

Odrick was a non-factor; he managed just three tackles. And the Penn State pass rush, which finished with two sacks, was unable to generate significant pressure without blitzing.

“It was the plan (to blitz),” Bradley said. “We went after (Stanzi). A couple times we got to him. A couple times we missed him. We should have had him. That's part of the game.”

So they move on from here.

“We're still upbeat, still positive,” Latimore said.

“This will make us a little humbler, a little hungrier,” Bowman said. “We have to pick it up and keep moving on.”

Which is what Odrick was doing. Quickly.

“I'm gonna put blinders on and keep going, keep truckin',” he said. “All of us.”


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