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Penn State’s Run Game Nowhere To Be Found In Loss To Iowa

Penn State football was outplayed in Saturday’s 41-21 loss to Iowa and dropped to 0-5 for the first time in program history.

After running the ball successfully last week, Penn State’s rushing attack was virtually nonexistent against Iowa. With Will Levis starting at quarterback, the offensive game plan involved a lot of designed quarterback runs that ultimately didn’t allow the offense to get going.

The Nittany Lions as a whole totaled 35 rushing attempts for just 62 yards, which is good for an abysmal 1.8 yards per carry. Penn State’s quarterbacks accounted for 21 of those attempts (Levis ran 15 times for 35 yards, while Sean Clifford posted six carries for 13 yards).

“We knew running the ball against this team was gonna be difficult,” Franklin said. “It always is. We’ve always had challenges running the ball against this crew, and most people do.”

Iowa’s run defense has been one of the best in the Big Ten this season. Coming into the game, the Hawkeyes gave up 112.8 rushing yards per game, which was the fourth-best in the conference. Iowa’s stout defense up front presented the Nittany Lions with a challenge, but the goal was to still establish the run nonetheless

“We wanted to stay on schedule,” Franklin said. “We wanted to stay on schedule and the one drive with Will [Levis] we were able to do that, mixing the run in there and quick game. But we weren’t able to do it consistently enough and it can’t just be with the quarterback.”

That drive Franklin’s referred to came in the first quarter, as the Nittany Lions totaled 53 rushing yards in the first 15 minutes of action. After that, however, Penn State totaled just nine yards on the ground for the rest of the game.

Penn State’s running backs were hardly a factor throughout the entirety of the game. Franklin said Devyn Ford was unavailable for most of the game, leaving the workload to be handled by true freshmen Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee.

According to the Big Ten Network’s broadcast, Ford didn’t come back to the field following halftime.

Holmes and Lee combined for 10 carries worth a dreadful 14 rushing yards (1.4 yards per attempt. There wasn’t much opportunity for the two backs with Penn State trailing for much of the game, paired with poor blocking up front from the offensive line.

Penn State’s rushing total against Iowa is the second-lowest output all season, landing just behind 44 rushing yards against Ohio State. With more and more uncertainty at the quarterback position as the season goes on, the Nittany Lions’ run game will need to be more consistent if they hope to win a game moving forward.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, NY and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his rants on all of his teams follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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