The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Week 4 Iowa football notebook | Iowa aware of the challenge ahead against Penn State

With a highly-rated NFL prospect at left tackle and a White Out crowd, the Nittany Lions give the Hawkeyes plenty to think about.
Grace Smith
Western Michigan running back Jalen Buckley gets stopped by defensive lineman Logan Lee during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10. Buckley averaged 2.1 yards per carry.

For Iowa football running back Leshon Williams, silence is a sign of success. At Penn State’s Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Williams and the Hawkeyes will aim to quell what’s sure to be a raucous sold-out crowd.

“The coaches talk about it, everybody talks about it, and you see it on the Internet,” Williams said of the hostile environment on Tuesday.  “A lot of people out there real loud, but once again, the better we play, the quieter they get.”

The White Out game at Penn State has been in existence since 2004 and has produced many memorable moments in college football. The 106,000 fans all dressed in white have caused plenty of issues for opposing offenses, such as in 2019 when Michigan was forced to call a timeout before its first play.

For the Hawkeyes, Saturday will be their first night-game White Out since 2009, when then-unranked Iowa upset fifth-ranked Penn State, 21-10. Future NFL first-round draft pick Adrian Clayborn blocked a punt and returned the ball 53 yards for a touchdown, putting the Hawkeyes ahead, 11-10.

“It’s a great sound, I’ll never forget that sound,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday when asked about the punt block. “It’s a really good sound or a really bad sound.”

Outside of quarterback Cade McNamara and tight end Erick All, no Iowa player has had any White Out experience. Without having seen the spectacle in person, the Hawkeyes are taking their preparation seriously.

Iowa defensive lineman Logan Lee said the team’s facility has been blasting crowd noise from the speakers all week while the offense practices. Hawkeye receiver Seth Anderson admitted that he thought the speakers would “blow out” at practice on Tuesday.

Anderson said McNamara has been giving the offense guidance on how to operate in the huddle amidst the crowd, emphasizing focus on the play call and clear communication between positions.

One position the Hawkeyes offense will have to be aware of is the Nittany Lion secondary. Penn State boasts plenty of talent at the cornerback and safety spots. Even with Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown off to the NFL, Penn State ranks sixth in the nation according to Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) college football secondary rankings.

Cornerback Kalen King returns to the Nittany Lions following a second-team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 2022. In addition, Penn State also sports senior Keaton Ellis at safety. Ellis had seven pass breakups last season as Penn State led the nation in the category.

“They play their role and know what they’re doing,” Iowa receiver Diante Vines said of Penn State’s cornerbacks. “They’re really athletic, good builds … We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Penn State left tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu is PFF’s No. 1 ranked offensive tackle in the 2024 NFL Draft. The junior allowed no sacks in 281 pass-blocking snaps in 2022, earning second-team All-American honors by Walter Camp.

Lee said Fashanu, a 6-foot-6, 317-pounder, is capable of taking on double teams “as long as necessary.” Lee added that his goal is to put Penn State’s tackle and guard on different levels of the line of scrimmage to create pass rush holes.

In addition to Fashanu, the Nittany Lions also feature a balanced rushing attack with sophomores Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, as well as redshirt senior Trey Potts, who each has over 1,000 career rushing yards. Penn State is one of eight FBS teams, and the only team in the Big Ten, with three career-thousand-yard rushers on its roster.

Look good, play good

Iowa football turned plenty of heads Tuesday when it released a hype video featuring cornerback Cooper DeJean donning the regular white and gold Iowa road jersey, but this time with black pants instead of gold. The Hawkeyes have worn black pants at home before, but not for road games.

Lee said this new wardrobe combination was a decision made by the players’ leadership council, adding that the group was initially thinking of debuting an all-white uniform.

“It’s just exciting for guys to be able to change it up,” Lee said. “I don’t know what it is, but ‘Look good, feel good; Feel good, play good.’ It’s just a cool opportunity that we took advantage of.”

Injury Report 

Iowa running backs Kaleb Williams and Jaziun Patterson were not listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart this week, and Ferentz confirmed that neither will play on Saturday. Williams is dealing with an ankle injury and was ruled out prior to Iowa’s contest against Western Michigan last week. According to the head coach, Patterson is also dealing with a lower leg injury and will be day-to-day.

The Hawkeye depth chart currently lists Williams as the starting back. The Chicago native piled up 175 total yards last week, including a 25-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against the Broncos. Behind Williams are true freshman running backs Kamari Moulton and Terrell Washington Jr, each of whom Ferentz said will get touches on Saturday. Moulton scored twice last week while Washington ran six times for 31 yards against the Broncos.

Ferentz also confirmed that tight end Luke Lachey had surgery on Tuesday and is “most likely” out for the season with an ankle injury. He maintained that the injury was a “clean break” and that the medical procedure was nothing out of the ordinary. Lachey was still named a captain for the game against Penn State, but is in crutches and is unlikely to make the trip to Happy Valley.

Jermari Harris speaks

Fellow Iowa cornerback Jermari Harris also drew peoples’ attention when he made a statement to reporters before questions began. Harris was suspended for the Hawkeyes’ first two games, and on Tuesday, took the time to issue an apology.

“As you all know, I was suspended two weeks because of the gambling situation, a situation I deeply regret,” Harris said. “I’ve acknowledged it, and I’m trying to move forward … I made a mistake.”

Lee was complimentary of Harris’ leadership and dedication, explaining how when Harris was injured, he was always the first one in and last out of the Hawkeyes’ defensive back room.

“He’s put a great offseason together just preparing for this moment,” Lee said. “So, we have huge expectations for him and are really excited to see where this season takes him.”

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.