Game Ball and Helmet Stickers: The Saquon Show
But, enough is enough already, Saquon Barkley the spotlight shines on you today. Penn State plucked a thorn in their side and added another Big Ten victim to its recent collection by trouncing Iowa 41-14 on Saturday night. In what has become the norm, Mr. Barkley put on another stellar show, with plenty of help from his brothers of course. It wasn’t his 57 yard dodge and weave burst that had most talking afterwards, or his 44 yard catch and high-step into the endzone later on that garnered the most attention. The play that sets him apart from most others, was just a simple 6 yard run up the middle for a first down. On the play, just as Barkley hit the yardline, he got spun around and with a defender crashing into his legs from behind, managed to do a backwards leap over him and kept running. It was a remarkable run to say the least, and one that had James Franklin wondering after the game if he was watching the jumbotron while he was running. He finished with 167 yards rushing on the day (207 total) and those two touchdowns. His legend only continues to grow as the season wears on. For that, the Saquon Barkley Show receives today’s game ball and WE ARE all blessed to be a witness to his greatness.
Now, on to his teammates who have done an outstanding job complimenting Mr. Barkley. First and foremost, the young guard Connor McGovern earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for his performance on the O-Line. Incredibly, it was the first time in the history of the weekly award that the honor went to an offensive lineman. Not bad for one of our Big Handsomes if I do say so myself. Paris Palmer held down the fort at tackle after stalwart Brendan Manon went out with a foot issue and Chasz Wright filled in admirably in his absence. The lone senior out there, Brian Gaia, keeps leading the charge as his career winds down on a high note. Mike Gesicki long ago took any doubt on his dependability and squashed that notion like a cockroach. Pardon the grotesque vision, but something tells me that dude would appreciate it. In fact, he has become Mr. Dependable and a testament that blood, sweat, and tears really do pay off. His QB, Trace McSorley, continues to be Mr. Efficient with a firm grip on building his own legacy but how ‘bout some love for his backup, Tommy Stevens today? Mr. Stevens was not going to be denied and let a few Hawkeyes know he meant business in the process. That end-around for a touchdown begs the question on how many more tricks that Joe Moorhead offense has up its sleeve. I bet we see Tommy on the receiving end of a trick play eventually.
Defensively, we’re talking about a unit that surrendered 30 yards rushing to an offense that came in with well over 1,300 on the season. Obviously, the first line of defense sets the tone and the Wild Dogs continue to wreck havoc on their opponents. Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan represent the old dogs but the pups are growing up in a hurry and are making life miserable in the trenches. Kevin Givens was this week’s standout among those pups but every week it seems to be a different name. With only Schwan set to depart, this unit is beginning to look dangerous in coming years. Troy Apke stepped up and made a nice pick and return and Marcus Allen continued to shut the door on anyone who makes it through the front seven. With three games left, I’m beginning to get a sense that Allen, a junior, could be on a fast track to the NFL. His third season as a Nittany Lion had been that dominant. Last but not least, and speaking of “setting the tone,” middle linebacker Jason Cabinda represented a brick wall on Iowa’s first drive of the game. On third and inches, Hawkeyes QB CJ Beathard tried to dive over the top but was met by the perfectly-timed Cabinda, old-school neck roll and all, and knocked back about two yards. A couple Wild Dogs finished him off but it was Cabinda’s monster hit that set the tone from the outset and carried over all night for an overmatched Hawkeye squad.
During his post-game media session, and well after he had thanked and praised his teammates, Mr. Barkley mentioned that he could see a familiar look in the opponents eyes. It was not a look of confidence in the eyes of a Hawkeye squad that has played the role of spoiler far too many times. It was a look of defeat. According to Barkley, they looked like they did not want to be there any more. It was a look he’s seen five games in a row now as the Nittany Lions head into their final three-game stretch. They will move up in the polls, a far cry from where we stood in late September. That being said, and taking my cue from the man in charge, there is only one game that matters on this schedule and that’s an upcoming trip to Bloomington, Indiana and a slugfest with the Hoosiers. The thorn in our side has been cast away, a spoiler left with defeat in his eyes and visions of the Saquon Barkley Show dancing in his head.