Halftime reactions – Iowa vs. Penn State

Through two quarters, Iowa and Penn State are tied, 17-17. Pregame Editor Adam Hensley gives his first-half takeaways .


Nick Rohlman

Tight end Noah Fant catches a pass in pregame warmups before the Iowa-Penn State football game on Oct. 27.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

Well, that was one weird first half.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – So, to recap, Penn State’s first punt of the game (on its opening drive) was blocked by Hawkeye Dominique Dafney, and it resulted in a safety.

Then, Iowa’s first touchdown came from punter Colten Rastetter, who threw a pass on 4th-and-goal to defensive lineman Sam Brinks.

Throw in another safety when Penn State’s long snapper Kyle Vasey fired a snap well over the head of punter Blake Gillikin, and you’ve got one weird first half.

The Hawkeyes’ final drive of the first half ended on a 4th-and-10 with backup quarterback Peyton Mansell rushing for no gain. That one was a head-scratcher, as he rolled out to his right to pass, but attempted to then tuck it and run.

Iowa also fumbled the ball twice on its first two drives and recovered both times. Penn State was also called for six penalties.

Iowa’s offense has yet to put together anything consistent.

Penn State has gift-wrapped two drives for Iowa on punts following safeties, but aside from that, Iowa really hasn’t shown the ability to move the ball consistently.

The Hawkeyes’ third drive of the game was a three-and-out, taking up a whopping 54 seconds. Then, Iowa had a six play, 6-yard drive. Both drives ended in punts.

Blame the weather, nerves, or whatever you’d like, but quarterback Nate Stanley does not look like the same signal caller that tossed 6 touchdowns against Indiana a few weeks ago. He’s 6-of-17 for 71 yards so far. He also threw an interception halfway through the second quarter, and Penn State scored a touchdown to tie the game one play later.

Stanley had T.J. Hockenson wide-open on a 3rd-and-short situation earlier in the game, but his pass sailed far over the tight end’s head. That play would have been a touchdown, as no Nittany Lion was in the vicinity.

Point being, Stanley is having one of his worst halves of football. Iowa’s winning ways rest on his shoulders, so if he doesn’t pick things up, the Hawkeyes will be in serious trouble.

Iowa’s defense looks sharp, as usual.

Penn State’s first touchdown drive of the game was 10-play, 85-yarder that took up 4 minutes and 51 seconds. Aside from that, the Nittany Lions have yet to have a drive longer than six plays. Iowa has a pair of sacks, too.

However, with an offense like Penn State’s Iowa can’t rely on its defense to keep things in a low-scoring affair. After Iowa’s strange attempt on fourth down gave Penn State the ball at its own 42-yard line, and backup quarterback Tommy Stevens led the Nittany Lions to a field goal right before halftime.

Iowa needs to take advantage of Trace McSorley’s injury.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley injured his right knee after it got twisted under a pile after a sack.

Stevens came in as his replacement, but then McSorley returned for one drive, in which Penn State went three-and-out.

Whether Penn State opts to roll the dice with McSorley and his knee or ride Stevens’ hot hand, Iowa needs to capitalize. Don’t be surprised if defensive coordinator Phil Parker throws more blitzes Penn State’s way in the second half, either to chase down McSorley on a bad knee or rattle a backup.

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