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Hawkeyes hammered by Penn State at home

Posted on 20. Oct, 2012 by in Iowa Football

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There’s no sugarcoating that can be done. For four quarters inside Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night, Penn State imposed its will on Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost their third home game of the season to the Nittany Lions, 38-14, and it looked every bit like a game with that outcome.

Defensively, Iowa was carved apart by Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, who threw for 289 yards on 26-of-38 passing and two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions ran 90 plays from scrimmage and accumulated 509 yards of total offense.

“We played against no-huddle teams in the past. Our expectation going into this game was that they were not going to use it as much as they did,” junior linebacker James Morris said. “It caught us off guard, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to line up and play football, play it better when the ball is snapped.”

Offensively, the Hawkeyes could get absolutely nothing going on the ground or through the air. While freshman running back Greg Garmon got the start, sophomore running back Mark Weisman managed to play despite a sprained ankle. However, neither proved effective. Iowa ran the ball 23 times and could only record 20 yards rushing the entire night.

The passing game wasn’t any better. Senior quarterback James Vandenberg completed just 17 of his 36 passes for 189 yards. He threw one touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to senior wide receiver Keenan Davis, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the lackluster showing from the entire offense.

“We scored seven offensive points,” Vandenberg said. “We’ve got to do a lot better than that.”

Vandenberg’s struggles reached a point to where fans booed rather loudly and head coach Kirk Ferentz had to answer questions regarding whether he thought of benching Vandenberg for redshirt freshman back-up Jake Rudock.

“I thought about it,” Ferentz said. “But at that point, we just felt like, ‘Let the starters finish the game.'”

If there was a highlight in this game for the Hawkeyes, it came on special teams from junior wide receiver Jordan Cotton. After Penn State took a 38-0 lead in the fourth quarter, Cotton finally got Iowa on the scoreboard with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

On the injury front, Iowa took a hit along the offensive line. In a three-play span during the first quarter, the Hawkeyes lost both sophomore left tackle Brandon Scherff and sophomore right guard Andrew Donnal to injuries. Scherff was carted off the field with what Ferentz said called “a lower leg injury” that will sideline him the rest of the season, while Donnal limped into the locker room on crutches at the start of the second quarter and didn’t return.

Redshirt freshman Austin Blythe took Donnal’s spot at right guard, a position Blythe had started the first four games of the season at for Iowa prior to being injured himself. As for Scherff’s spot at left tackle, he was replaced by junior Nolan MacMillan, who played in his first game since 2010 after missing all of last season with a sports hernia injury.

Iowa now plays its next two games on the road, beginning with a Legends Division contest against Northwestern Oct. 27 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats are 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten after blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in a 29-28 home loss to Nebraska on Saturday. The game is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. Central and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

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