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Penn State Grades Vs. Iowa

Who played well against the Hawkeyes, and who still has some work to do?

Penn State improved to 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Big Ten Leaders Division on Saturday with a 13-3 victory against Iowa at Beaver Stadium. Today, we take a look at who played well and who has some work to do as the Nittany Lions prepare to host Purdue for Homecoming this weekend.

Quarterbacks: It was a quiet but generally effective day for Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin behind center. The two combined to complete 15 of 26 passes for 164 yards with a touchdown and did just enough to keep the Hawkeyes off balance as the Penn State gameplan sought to establish a strong ground game. McGloin did throw an ugly redzone interception in the second half, however, that kept Penn State from coming away with points at a crucial moment in the game, so that's a little rain on the parade. Grade: C+

Backs: Silas Redd and Curtis Dukes had great success running the ball for Penn State, racking up a combined 202 yards on 37 carries, enough for a 5.4 yard per carry average. Redd racked up 142 yards on 28 carries and Dukes spelled him well, picking up 60 yards on his nine carries. Joe Suhey was also big catching passes out of the backfield, hauling in three for 33 yards. Grade: A

Receivers: A quiet day for the quarterbacks resulted in a quiet day for the wide receivers, too. Justin Brown led the way for this group with just three catches for 42 yards, and after a string of big games, Derek Moye was held to just two catches for 42 yards. The group avoided drops, however, and helped keep the Hawkeyes from stacking too many guys in the box to stop the run, so not a whole lot to complain about here. Grade: B

Offensive Line: It's been a while since this group imposed its will on a big time opponent like it did Saturday against the Hawkeyes. The line opened running lanes for Redd and Dukes all afternoon, and as the game moved along, the Lions just wore the Iowa defenders out. This is definitely a performance the line will look to build on moving forward. Grade: A

Defensive Line: Yet another solid performance from this group. Jordan Hill and Devon Still led the way with six tackles each and as a unit, the defensive line racked up 2.5 sacks on the day. Jack Crawford was a disruptive force as well, breaking up two passes. There were holes for blitzing linebackers all day, too, which the line deserves some credit for. Grade: A

Linebackers: This group brought more pressure than it has in a long time, and boy, did it pay off. Linebackers accounted for 2.5 sacks of their own on Saturday and were repeatedly in the face of Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg, forcing him into some bad throws and ugly incompletions. They were active in run defense, too, as Iowa gained just 84 yards all afternoon. Grade: A

Secondary: Nick Sukay and Malcolm Willis both came up with interceptions while Drew Astornio led the entire defense with 11 tackles in what was a solid day for this unit. Thanks to great pressure up front, these Lions didn't have to go about stopping Vandenberg and company on his own, but  they acquitted themselves well when they had to, and did their part in the win. Grade: A

Special Teams: Not a whole lot to see here, as Penn State's returners didn't have too much room to run against the Hawkeyes. Anthony Fera did convert his two 20-yard field goals, however, so he continues to build on his strong start since taking over for Evan Lewis at place kicker. Grade: B

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.