Penn State’s Post-Iowa Report Card
After a slow offensive start to the game, Penn State moved to 4-0 with a 31-0 win over Iowa in this year’s edition of the White Out.
Penn State’s defense, on the other hand, played lights out and shut out an AP Top-25 ranked opponent for the first time since the 1999 Alamo Bowl against No. 18 Texas A&M. The defense continued its dominance in the turnover battle and recovered four fumbles during the victory.
As Penn State prepares to leave Beaver Stadium to face Northwestern, let’s take a look at how each position group fared Saturday against the Hawkeyes.
After a lackluster showing against Illinois last week, Drew Allar bounced back. Allar struggled through the first drive where the Nittany Lions only managed to gain one yard to its own six-yard line, but when the defense recovered a fumble at the Penn State 18-yard line, the offense saw its first signs of success that culminated in a 46-yard field goal from Alex Felkins.
Allar went on to finish with 166 yards and four touchdowns with a 68% completion rate. Allar’s top target was wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith, whom he targeted 11 times. The passing game couldn’t break any explosive plays, but Allar’s four touchdown passes were perfectly thrown bullets forced into tight windows. Allar is still yet to throw his first interception in a Penn State uniform, a streak many thought would end against the tough Iowa secondary.
Pribula once again saw action late, but functioned more as a running back, completing one of his three pass attempts for 16 yards. Pribula’s only completed pass was Penn State’s longest passing play of the game.
Running Backs: B-
James Franklin said during the leadup to the White Out that the game was going to be one that his team needed to grind out against Iowa’s tough defense. Penn State did exactly that, with both running backs averaging below four yards per carry with no rushing touchdowns. Penn State’s longest run play of the game came on a 19-yard rush from Nick Singleton, which also was his longest run of the year.
Kaytron Allen recorded four more carries than Singleton and wracked up 24 more yards than his co-starter on Saturday in a strategy that differed from James Franklin’s normal routine. The running backs have yet to regain their explosiveness from last season, but against a tough Iowa defense, they did what was needed and wore Iowa down with the run game.
Wide Receivers: B
The search for the third wide receiver isn’t over yet. Trey Wallace was listed as questionable for the second week in a row and wasn’t targeted at all. Lambert-Smith, Liam Clifford, and Dante Cephas were listed as the starters before Saturday’s game. Iowa’s secondary is the strong point of its team, and the Nittany Lion pass catchers struggled. Lambert-Smith led the team with eight receptions good for 66 yards and an excellent touchdown catch for what turned out to be the last touchdown of the game.
Other than that, Clifford recorded the fourth-most receiving yards, catching both his targets for 17 yards. Cephas, the final starter, caught one ball for 11 yards.
Tight Ends: A
The tight ends stepped up and supplemented the passing game against Iowa. Theo Johnson finished second in receiving yards with 42 yards on six completions, catching every ball thrown his way. Of his 42 yards, 28 came after the catch. Fellow tight end Tyler Warren caught two touchdowns which were good for nine yards, his only receptions in a game where he was targeted five times. Khalil Dinkins was unexpectedly targeted on a crucial 4th-and-1 play for the Nittany Lions’ opening touchdown.
Offensive Line: B-
After last week, it’s safe to say the offensive line showed improvement. The offense was on the field a lot Saturday night, and the Iowa front seven couldn’t sack Allar at all during the contest. Even though they allowed no sacks, Allar was hurried three times. The Hawkeyes also recorded six tackles-for-loss that resulted in Penn State losing 16 total yards. Iowa has a stiff defensive line, but the Penn State offensive line couldn’t create any room for the running backs to run. Allen, the starter, averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.
Front Seven: A+
Because Penn State’s offense was on the field for over 45 minutes, the defense barely saw the field at all, limiting Iowa to 14:33 of possession. Defensive ends Chop Robinson, Amin Vanover, and Dani Dennis-Sutton all forced fumbles that were recovered by Penn State. Linebackers Abdul Carter and Curtis Jacobs led the team with three tackles apiece.
Robinson, however, stole the show for the Nittany Lions. Robinson recorded a tackle-for-loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries during the defensive shutout. Iowa managed just 76 total yards in the White Out conditions.
After recording four interceptions a week ago, the secondary wasn’t able to pick off Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara, but shut down the passing game nonetheless. Iowa had 56 passing yards against the Penn State secondary, 14 of which came from backup quarterback Deacon Hill in garbage time. Jaylen Reed and Kevin Winston both recorded pass breakups while limiting the starting quarterback to just 42 yards through the air, and Zakee Wheatley led the secondary with two tackles.
Special Teams: C+
Special teams continue to be a weak point for the Nittany Lions. Kicker Alex Felkins went one-for-two on field goal attempts. Kickoff specialist Gabe Nwosu had an unusually low three touchbacks on his six kickoffs. Punter Riley Thompson also struggled, recording an average punt of just 37.8 yards with a long of 42 yards. Thompson’s first punt didn’t travel into Iowa territory and he wasn’t able to pin the Hawkeyes inside their own 20-yard line on any of his four punts.
Kaden Saunders didn’t have a great performance returning punts. Saunders muffed his second punt return attempt and had negative three return yards across his seven attempts. Franklin took time after the game to praise Iowa’s punter who pinned Penn State inside its own 20-yard line on four of his seven punts.
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About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
Fashanu is the Nittany Lions’ most recent First-Team All-American since Micah Parsons in 2019.
Johnson is the second Penn Stater to declare for the NFL Draft.