Category Archives: Jack Crawford

NCAA Week Five: Penn State vs. Iowa

The ground game is back. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

PSU: 2010 record – 3-1
IOWA: 2010 record – 3-1
Spread: Iowa by 7
Where: Kinnick Stadium
When: Saturday, 8:05 PM on ESPN
Last time met: Sept. 6, 2009 – Penn State was upset again by the Hawkeyes 21-10.  The Hawkeyes blocked a Jeremy Boone punt and Adrian Clayborn ran it in for a late Iowa touchdown.

Opposing player to watch – RB Adam Robinson: Robinson is having a great year so far averaging 5.5 yards per carry.  He gashed Penn State for 88 yards and a touchdown in last year’s contest.  Robinson has carried for over 100 yards in three out of four Iowa games this season.  He is a very small back but has a good amount of power and always keeps his legs moving.  Robinson could pose a problem once again for the Nittany Lions front seven.

Offenses: Penn State’s red zone efficiency was a huge problem last Saturday against Temple.  Robert Bolden drove the Nittany Lions deep into Temple territory many times during the game.  Following the Youngstown State game, Penn State has only scored in two out of their last 11 red zone trips.  The offense has plenty of talent to put the ball into the end zone.  Evan Royster showed the nation that he is still one of the best backs in the country.  Royster ripped off 187 rushing yards on the Temple Owls defense.  Brett Brackett and Derek Moye have also been huge so far this season.  The duo combined for eight catches last week.  However the offense only managed one touchdown last week, coming on goal line carry by fullback Michael Zordich.

The Iowa offense has put some a lot of points this season.  In their first four games this season, the Hawkeyes have scored 144 points.  Ricky Stanzi has looked great and is back on top of his game.  Stanzi has thrown nine touchdowns and only one interception so far.  Now three of these games were against the likes of Eastern Illinois, Iowa State, and Ball State.  Stanzi threw three touchdowns and one interception in their only challenging game against Arizona.  The Hawkeyes fell short but Stanzi was certainly not the reason for that.  Adam Robinson will have to have a big game if the Hawkeyes want to upend the Nittany Lions again.  The Hawkeyes also have a nice receiver trio of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Allen Reisner, and Marvin McNutt.  The trio has combined for 41 catches and six touchdowns this season.  They benefit from the elevated play of Stanzi.

Advantage: Iowa has the advantage in the passing game due to Stanzi being a veteran signal caller.  Both teams have good running games but the Hawkeyes have a slight edge overall.

Defenses: The Nittany Lions’ defense gave up two touchdowns to Bernard Pierce last Saturday and didn’t play very well overall.  Penn State is giving up about 155 passing yards per game this season.  The defense will be challenged this week facing a good signal caller in Stanzi.  The Nittany Lion defense challenged Temple quarterback Chester Stewart to beat them with his arm last week.  It resulted in a late interception for Penn State and led them to the victory.  They are fourth in the Big Ten in sacks with seven.  Getting pressure on Stanzi will be a huge key for the Nittany Lions this week.  Jack Crawford and Ollie Ogbu will have to be active for the defense to be effective.

The Hawkeyes are coming off a shutout but it was against Ball State.  They have only given up four touchdowns so far this season and an average 227 yards per game.  As the same for the Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes haven’t faced a very high level of competition.  They are tied with Penn State for fifth in the Big Ten in interceptions with five.  The Hawkeyes always have a solid defense that gives Penn State problems.  Penn State will have to watch out for senior Adrian Clayborn on the defensive line.  Clayborn was huge for the Hawkeyes in last year’s contest.  The last two years they have upset Penn State and ruined their National Championship hopes.  This has been behind a strong defense that stifled former quarterback Darryl Clark.  It will be interesting to see how Bolden performs under the lights at Kinnick Stadium.

Advantage: Penn State has the slight edge with a very effective pass rush.  Pressure on Stanzi will be a very big key.

Injury Report:
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season
Alabama: K Dan Murray (hip flexor) *Could play on Saturday

Prediction: Penn State finally shrugs off the past disappointments against Iowa and wins a close battle 24-20.


NCAA Week Two: Penn State vs. Alabama

Freshmen QB Robert Bolden faces a tough test. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

PSU: 2010 record – 1-0
BAMA: 2010 record – 1-0
Spread: Alabama by 12.5
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
When: Saturday, 7:00 PM on ESPN
Last time met: Oct. 27, 1990 – Penn State beat Alabama in a defensive game 9-0.  Craig Fayak kicked three field goals in the victory.  Neither team was ranked in the AP Top 25 that season.
Last Week: The Nittany Lions opened up the season with a 44-14 win over Youngstown State.  Alabama easily beat San Jose State 48-3 in Tuscaloosa. 

Best case scenario: The Nittany Lions get off to a great start and Robert Bolden marches them down the field for an opening touchdown.  The true freshmen signal caller passes for about 250 yards and a few touchdowns.  Brett Brackett keeps his great play going and has 75 receiving yards and a touchdown.  The defense shuts down Mark Ingram (if he plays) along with the rest of the Crimson Tide offense. 

Worst case scenario: It’s a beat down on the road.  Ingram actually plays and has a few touchdowns.  Bolden struggles throwing a few interceptions and gets sacked a few times. 

Opposing player to watch – WR Julio Jones: Jones is one of the best wide receivers in college football and is likely a top pick in the draft this offseason.  Senior quarterback Greg McElroy will be looking Jones’ way quite a bit throughout the game.  Jones has tremendous athleticism and has some of the best hands in football.  His amazing one-handed catch was seen on highlight reels all over the nation.  Penn State defensive backs will have to work to shut down Jones.  Their job will be a lot easier if Mark Ingram isn’t able to play. 

Offenses: Penn State looked good last week with Bolden at the helm against Youngstown State.  Bolden looked solid and made very few mistakes.  His favorite target easily was Brett Brackett who had a career day with 98 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Derek Moye was also very successful turning in five catches for 61 yards.  Evan Royster never seemed to get going and only rushed for 40 yards.  Stephon Green added a touchdown for the Nittany Lions and seemed to pick up right where he left off in 2009.  Freshmen Silas Redd also showed a bit of a burst in mop-up duty in the fourth quarter.  Bolden’s game will coming down to how the offense performs around him.  His receivers having big games again will go a long way in possibly upending the defending National Champions. 

When you think Alabama, you think Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram.  However Ingram may be out due to left-knee surgery.  Just because Ingram is out does not mean the Crimson Tide have no running game.  Backup Eddie Lacy looked very good against San Jose State, rushing for 111 yards.  Again it was against San Jose State but the Nittany Lions still need to account for the run game.  Julio Jones is a big target for Greg McElroy and McElroy will be looking his way often.  McElroy led Alabama to a national title last season and looks to have picked up right where he left off.  If McElroy is able to find Jones, it may be a long night for Penn State. 

Advantage: Alabama has the edge for experience and overall talent. 

Defenses: The Nittany Lions lost a few starters on defense last season.  But Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore lead the pass rush and will look to make McElroy uncomfortable.  The leadership once again comes from the linebacking core.  Nate Stupar, Bani Gbadyu, and Chris Colasanti.  All three being seniors, they will look to the Crimson Tide running game and help to avoid the tight ends getting open downfield.  It will be a tough task for a defense that doesn’t have as much experience together. 

The Crimson Tide took a big blow last week when it was announced that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was suspended for two games.  Missing the 306-pound mammoth defensive tackle should play to Penn State’s advantage.  Alabama still has a strong defense and will try to pose problems for Bolden.  The Crimson Tide is coming off a game in which they only allowed three points.  We’ll see how they cope without Dareus against a strong opponent.  

Advantage: Alabama is very talented, but the loss of Dareus hurts them. 

Injury Report:
Penn State: no injuries.
Alabama: Marcell Dareus & Mark Ingram is unlikely to play. 

Prediction: Penn State is going to play tougher than everyone thinks.  But Alabama wins a close one 23-17.