Talkin' Iowa 'D'

Oct. 1, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free. To receive the UI’s OSR or to learn more, click HERE.

IOWA CITY, Iowa – After trailing for a majority of the game at fifth-ranked Penn State Saturday night, Iowa scored 21 unanswered points, including 16 in the fourth quarter to leave State College with the 21-10 upset victory. The win garnered the Hawkeyes national respect, vaulting Iowa right back in the rankings.

Iowa’s defense and special teams are what ignited the second-half comeback and 11-point triumph. The opportunistic Hawkeye defense was able to shut down the Nittany Lion offensive attack and give the Iowa offense excellent field position in the second half. That, coupled with Adrian Clayborn’s punt block and 53-yard return for a score, gave the Hawkeyes light.

Junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi feels like the offense feeds off the defense and special teams.

“Our defense does such a good job of stopping teams and putting them in bad field position,” said Stanzi after the game. “Tonight, we definitely fed off of their momentum and energy.”

Iowa’s defense had a rough start to Saturday’s game, allowing 147 yards in the first 15 minutes of action. The Nittany Lions scored a 79-yard touchdown on their first play from scrimmage and then marched 68 yards in 20 plays on their second offensive possession. Despite allowing Penn State to amass 20 plays in 10:17 on its second drive, Iowa’s defense stood tall and only yielded a 27-yard field goal.

Following Penn State’s two first-quarter scores, Iowa made the necessary adjustments and turned the game on its head. After allowing 147 total yards in the first period, Iowa’s defense only allowed 160 total yards the rest of the contest. The Hawkeye defense settled in and limited Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark to just 7-of-27 passing and a career-high three interceptions after starting the contest 5-for-5 and 96 yards and a score.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was extremely proud of his players following the game.

“The effort and determination our guys played with was outstanding,” said Ferentz. “The team really proved to be a very resilient bunch because there was nothing easy about what happened out there.”

Iowa, whose coaches are some of the best in the country in making in-game adjustments, made numerous game-changing plays to come away with its seventh victory in its last eight tries against Penn State, including winning four of its last five at University Park. The Black and Gold collected three interceptions, blocked and returned a punt for the game-winning score and sacked Clark in the end zone for a safety. The Hawkeye defense really amped up its intensity on third downs Saturday night; all three picks and the safety came on third down.

Linebacker Pat Angerer had his best all-around game of his collegiate career, collecting a game-high 14 tackles, returning an interception 38 yards and forcing his first career fumble. Lineman Broderick Binns continues to stand out, tallying eight tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and the sack that scored Iowa’s first two points in the Penn State end zone. Angerer and Binns, though, were just two of many Hawkeyes who shined bright in the stormy conditions Saturday night.

Angerer and Clayborn were rewarded for their gritty performances at Penn State, and earning Big Ten Defensive and Special Teams Player of the Week laurels, respectively. Iowa has had at least one Hawkeye earn a league player of the week accolade each week this season. Additionally, Clayborn was tabbed’s Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, while Binns was named the Big Ten’s defensive player of the week by the web site after being a nuisance in the Nittany Lion backfield.

College Football Analyst Mark May said on ESPNs College Football Final Saturday night that defensive coordinator Norm Parker did a terrific job preparing his unit playing in front of 109,316 fans, which is the fourth-largest crowd ever to watch an Iowa football game.

“Norm Parker did an outstanding job getting players ready to play in Happy Valley,” said May. “The crowd noise, the whiteout — it didn’t affect this defense at all. Iowa’s defense has been outstanding the past couple weeks, particularly at Penn State when they had to come up with big plays.”

May added that Iowa’s road victory made a statement to the rest of the Big Ten.

“They (Iowa) are the best team in the Big Ten,” said May.

During the ABC national telecast, veteran play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger praised the Iowa coaching staff.

“This is one of the most intelligent football teams I have watched this season,” said Musburger. “They (Iowa) are very well-coached and know exactly what they have to do.”

Kirk Herbstreit, who is Musburger’s color analyst on ABC, agreed with his partner.

“I like this team, I like them a lot,” said Herbstreit. “Iowa sent a message to the rest of the Big Ten that when you get ready to play Iowa this year, you better be ready to play on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”