The afterglow of yesterday's "much-harder-than-it-had-to-be, but-is-there-any-other-way-PSU-can-win-this-season, or-against-Iowa, ever" win over nemesis Iowa has RFBS ready to hand out some game balls:
Barham, Troutman, Stankiewitch, Pannell, Okoli - Best game of the season for the offensive line, great work in the trenches at crunch time pounding the running game. RBs Silas Redd and Curtis Dukes combined for 37 carries and 202 yards. True, this was against an average Iowa defense, and PSU might face four better defenses the rest of the way (Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin). But it's still an Iowa defense, and it was a strong OL performance overall, and it was essential to the win.
Redd and Dukes - Both looked great, though Redd put the ball on the ground once, and Dukes clearly needs to tighten his grip. Upcoming opponents, especially opportunistic Illinois and Nebraska, will be tugging and slapping at the ball the way Dukes carries it.
Gerald Hodges - In a span of two short games, Hodges has emerged as a pass-rushing force. RFBS noticed it last week vs. Indiana, and it was in full bloom Saturday as PSU blitzed much more than it ordinarily does. This also is an example of resourceful coaching, as the staff recognized Hodges' ability and is utilizing it properly.
Glenn Carson - He had a relatively nondescript game, but his much-publicized "Iowa is a wrestling school, Penn State is a football school'' comment early in the week put the onus on his teammates to step up and win. Which they did. Did Carson's comments really have any impact on the game? Unlikely. But he said it, and they won, so he gets some love.
Adrian Amos - Amazing poise for a true freshman, and apparently an amazing grasp of the defense. There was never a moment where having the true freshman third stringer at CB seemed like a liability.
Matt McGloin - Congratulations Matt! Surely McGloin will be the No. 1 QB the rest of the way. By default. There's no way the coaches can say "both QBs did some good things'' as they always do. McGloin did his usual good and bad (really, REALLY bad on the interception, an OMG-WTF?!?! moment if there ever was). Bolden was just bad. Something's wrong with his confidence, or his mechanics, or both. But he needs to come off the field for the time being.
Khairi Fortt - He rotates in for MLB Glenn Carson with no drop-off, yesterday he also filled in for Nate Stupar at OLB, and he successfully joined Hodges in the blitz packages, netting 1.5 sacks. What's not to love?
The Umpire's right leg/foot - It led to three much-needed points early on, when a wayward Rob Bolden pass (is there any other kind?) ricocheted off it for a completion to Andrew Szczerba, who made an alert, one-handed grab. Thanks for the kick, ump.
Tom Bradley - The DC's D was up to its usual standards: A little soft early (Iowa easily could have had a TD on its second possession), then dominating in the second half, when it allowed 119 yards and no points. Bradley blitzed more than RFBS can recall a PSU defense blitzing. Why? Because he now has the LBs who can do it (namely Hodges), and the experience behind them in the secondary to not yield big plays. Well done, maestro.
Devon Still and Jordan Hill - The DTs combined for 12 tackles. Is there a more productive DT duo in the nation? These guys are everywhere.
Justin Brown and Joe Suhey - Without Brown's full-extension, tiptoe receptions and Suhey's super concentration to haul in tipped/deflected passes, PSU would have had no passing game in the first half.
And, the anti-game ball goes to ...
Red Zone offense - Might be the worst in the nation. Unimaginably unimaginative. Where are the lobs to Moye, or Brown? The run-pass option rollouts? The play-fake passes to the TE? That final one worked like a charm for the game's only TD. What took so long? Announcer Chris Spielman was clamoring for it the entire game.
Final Word: PSU has 859 yards of offense the past two games and just 29 points to show for it. It also has two wins. Thank you, defense.