We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, Nov. 1. Let’s get started.
Hawkeyes are hard to handle away from home
Iowa visits Penn State this weekend, and that figures to be as tough a challenge as ever, for while the Hawkeyes (5-3) have had their hiccups this season – notably a home loss to North Dakota State on Sept. 17 and a 14-7 escape the following week against hapless Rutgers – they are 3-0 on the road, and have won their last nine away from home dating back to 2014.
And as Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com writes, Iowa has won five of its last seven in Beaver Stadium. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Hawkeyes have a two-headed rushing threat in Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels.
Wadley has generated 636 yards on the ground, eighth-most in the Big Ten, and his 7.1 yard-per-carry average is 11th in FBS. Daniels has added 624 yards, which equals the conference’s 10th-highest total.
Despite that, Iowa is just ninth in the Big Ten in rushing offense (167.9) and 12th in total offense (348.1). The Hawkeyes have also allowed 20 sacks, fourth-most in the conference – which might be particularly significant, since the Lions have dropped opposed quarterbacks 23 times, the Big Ten’s second-highest total.
Iowa is, however, good in the red zone on offense and defense, and has allowed the 16th-fewest points in the FBS (18.9 per game). The Hawkeyes are also plus-seven in turnover margin, which is 12th-best nationally.
But as Flounders notes, the Lions are on a roll, having gone 4-0 in October to put themselves in position for their first double-digit victory season since 2009.
And while Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley continue to set the tone for the offense, they have received contributions from any number of sources, including wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who has four catches for 101 yards this season, and is averaging 29 yards a grab since the beginning of the ’15 campaign.
Columnist: Franklin deserves some credit
Ben Jones of Statecollege.com notes that coach James Franklin will likely never be fully embraced, no matter how many games he wins, largely because of his hands-off management style:
Really, it isn’t his fault. James Franklin is a CEO, something written a million times before and far from anything insightful at this point. But it’s a management style that clashes with the traditional notion a football coach is the guy calling the plays, getting dirty in the trenches a few days before a big game.
That doesn’t make his style right or wrong, Jones continues, just different from the approach the fan base has come to expect. But because of Franklin’s MO, he has not been showered with nearly as much praise as he might during his team’s current four-game winning streak. It has gone to Joe Moorhead and Brent Pry, the new offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, and (naturally) the players.
Surely, Jones argues, Franklin deserves some credit:
The quality of play has unequivocally trended upwards and the state of the program’s physical infrastructure has as well. The only area that Franklin hasn’t been overly impressive in is the area he has never claimed to be in charge of. He isn’t trying to be Chip Kelly, he isn’t trying to be Joe Moorhead and he certainly isn’t trying to be Bill O’Brien or Joe Paterno. But as he said a few years ago deep into a Coaches Caravan stop, he doesn’t like recruiting — he likes winning.
And Penn State is winning.
Lions continue to go deep
In his review of Penn State’s 62-24 victory over Purdue, John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times notes that the PSU offense has offered the best of all worlds this season – the running of Barkley augmented by McSorley’s deep passing.
McSorley’s 12 completions against the Boilermakers netted 228 yards and three touchdowns. As Franklin said afterward:
“Almost every rep everybody (on the Purdue defense) was within seven or eight yards of the line of scrimmage. We were trying to run it in there and be patient, but at some point you just have to take some shots downfield.”
McSorley is now averaging 14.78 yards per completion, sixth-best in the FBS.
Then there were the Lions’ defensive adjustments. They limited Purdue to 131 yards in the second half, after the Boilermakers gained 210 while forging a 17-17 first-half tie. As middle linebacker Jason Cabinda said:
“They came and had their Penn State-specific offensive plays. But I kept telling the guys, once they get into their base stuff, we’re going to clamp down on them and get the job done. And that’s what we did.”
Arrington on the fly
A Twitter account called “We Are Legends” unearthed a video clip of PSU linebacker LaVar Arrington leaping over the line of scrimmage to stop Illinois running back Elmer Hickman on fourth down in 1998, a play that came to be called “LaVar’s Leap.” (For the record, the play came in a 27-0 PSU victory.)
— WeAreLegends (@WeArePSULegends) October 31, 2016