After a very sub-par redzone performance on Saturday vs. Temple, the Lions will likely have another tough week in the trenches against the always dangerous Iowa Hawkeyes. The defensive line is stacked with a bevy of monsters with all-american defensive end Adrian Clayborne, who has struggled this year with only 15 total tackles and has yet to record a sack this year and Broderick Binns at the other end of the line. The defensive tackles include 6’5″ 297 beast Christian Ballard and 6’4″ 270 pound Karl Klug also includes sack leader Mike Daniels who leads the team with 3. Three of which are seniors while Binns is still a very talented junior. The Hawkeye linebackers will show a duo of seniors in Jeremiha Hunter and Jeff Tarpinian (tackle leader with 32) ; the third linebacker is a junior Tyler Nielsen. Those three will be all over the field and will show different looks at times against a struggling Nittany Lion offense. The corners have proven a little immature at times and are the youngest part of their defense with Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde but they shined at times too. Hyde a sophomore and Prater junior are still learning and will soon be two good DB’s. More experienced players in that secondary include Tyler Sash coming off of back to back interception-leading seasons and Brett Greenwood. Sash, a superstar in the making is still a junior so we’ll be dealing with him again next year; he is a ballhawk and wherever you look on the field, Sash always seems to be there and Greenwood is just as stellar. This defense has also recorded 5 interceptions from Greenwood, Hyde, Prater, Nielsen, and Binns. After Lou Eliades season ending injury, the Lion O-Line better step up. And thank goodness Evan Royster showed up against the Owls on Saturday setting a career high in yards because he’d better be ready for these beasts on Iowa’s defensive line and so must freshman Robert Bolden as he will face more pressure than he has yet in his young career.
On to the Hawkeye offense, as Ricky Stanzi leads this team as the starting quarterback. speaking of Stanzi in four games has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards, 9 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. To me, he’s the most underrated quarterback in the country. Leading the team in rushing is sophomore Adam Robinson with 397 yards and behind him is Jewel Hampton with 117 yards. Hampton lost his starting job to a torn ACL after being hyped up to have a big year after superstar Shonn Greene graduated. Two starting receivers are Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, number 15 and Marvin McNutt, number 7. Koulianos has 270 yards on 17 receptions this year. DJK only needs 131 yards and 14 catches to become the Hawkeyes all-time leader in catches and receiving yards. On the other hand McNutt emerged to be a deep threat last year averaging 19.8 yards per catch which is the 4th highest in Iowa history. The starting fullback is Brett Morse and is important to the team as a Iowa fullback typically is to their offense. For the tight ends 6’3″ 248 pound senior Allen Reisner and 6’5″ 247 pound junior Brad Herman. in the middle of the offensive line that isn’t as good as last year’s but is still stellar is coach Kirk Ferentz son James Ferentz at center. At one side of the line at tackle is 6-6, 300, Sophomore Kiley Reiff and at the other anchor is 6-5, 295, Junior. The gaurds on this offense are Julian Vandervelde a senior listed at 6’3 300 pounds and freshman Nolan MacMillan who the Lions will need to take advantage of and send double blitzes at. MacMillan will most likely be attempting to block senior Ollie Ogbu, the defense’s best lineman so far this year.
Opening the Big Ten season with Iowa will be a huge, early conference test. This game will be won in the trenches, an area where the Nittany Lions must show tremendous improvement if they are to escape Iowa City alive.