CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- One word. No more. That‚??s all Matt McGloin has to say to get things moving in Penn State‚??s new no-huddle offense.
The formation, the routes, the protection -- all conveyed on the fly with just that one word from the quarterback, one of many drilled into players‚?? heads during the week.
And that‚??s how an offense goes in front of 75,000 rowdy Iowans and is able to operate much of the game without a huddle, exhausting one of the country‚??s most stubborn defenses with few issues.
That‚??s how, despite that environment, the Nittany Lions utilized coach Bill O‚??Brien‚??s no-huddle set -- dubbed ‚??NASCAR‚?Ě -- more than ever before, racking up 38 points and a season-best 504 yards on Saturday against Iowa.
‚??We‚??re just getting more and more comfortable with (the no-huddle) each and every week,‚?Ě McGloin said. ‚??I couldn‚??t even tell you how many plays we have in there, but it‚??s just one word. And everybody knows the formation, everybody knows what we‚??re doing.
‚??That‚??s just what we do throughout the week. It‚??s not something you can just learn overnight. We constantly work on it. We constantly study it.‚?Ě
One game after running a school-record 99 plays on offense against an up-tempo Northwestern team, the Lions ran an equally amazing 90 against a ball-control Iowa squad.
Michigan State ran 70 against the Hawkeyes last week. In double overtime.
McGloin finished with 289 yards passing and two touchdowns. Iowa had 209 yards total.
McGloin added a career-best 26 yards rushing. The Hawkeyes finished with 20 on the ground as a team.
The senior looked as calm as ever, making checks at the line and calling audibles. When only one word is needed to set the entire offense, the quarterback has all the time he could want to read the defense before the snap and make the appropriate adjustments.
‚??It‚??s something I‚??ve always dreamed about playing,‚?Ě McGloin said. ‚??I feel like I‚??m intelligent enough to run this type of offense and coach O‚??Brien and (quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher) know that. They let me do a lot of different things out there.
‚??It‚??s hard (for opponents) to prepare for. That‚??s a good defense we played, but I don‚??t think they were ready for it. They couldn‚??t match up with us.‚?Ě
On many occasions, the Hawkeyes simply didn‚??t have time to try. The hurry-up offense prevents most meaningful substitutions by the defense, which then has less time to diagnose the play.
That leads to matchup problems, particularly against O‚??Brien‚??s offense which used two tight ends on most every down on Saturday, lining them up in every spot imaginable.
Four different tight ends combined for 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown against Iowa. Penn State tight ends combined for 14 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown all of last season. In 13 games.
‚??It‚??s just a matter of (the defense not being able) to communicate and get lined up,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??We were able to go fast sometimes and catch them in some things. And that worked out well for us.
‚??You‚??ve gotta give (McGloin) a lot of credit this year through seven games. This guy‚??s been prepared. And he‚??s a smart guy, a competitive guy. ‚?Ľ I‚??m proud of him.‚?Ě
In many ways, the offense that O‚??Brien ported over from his old job in New England has progressed faster than he could have imagined.
‚??What you won‚??t see, I‚??ll tell you,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said in August, ‚??is I wouldn‚??t expect 40 points a game, 35 points a game. I wouldn‚??t expect the New England Patriots.‚?Ě
The Lions certainly are not the Patriots. But as for those numbers...
Penn State has scored 170 points during this five-game winning streak. That‚??s 34 per game.
In Big Ten play? Make it a 37.3 average. None more impressive than the ones against the Hawkeyes. Iowa came into the game with the 19th-ranked defense in the country, allowing 17 points and 317 yards per game.
Thanks to the pace of the Penn State offense, this one was essentially over by halftime.
‚??Guys are starting to realize what type of team we are,‚?Ě McGloin said. ‚??And what type of team we can be.‚?Ě