Injury updates and Iowa spreads

Minor injuries to Morris, Okoli

Saturday’s 16-10 Penn State victory over Indiana wasn’t without its bumps and bruises. The Daily Collegian does a great job keeping up with the various maladies suffered here and there. It turns out that cornerback Stephon Morris hurt his ankle during the game and sat himself out for most of the second half. Defensive end Sean Stanley made it sound as though Morris could have came back in the game, but he decided not to chance it because his back-up, freshman Adrian Amos, was filling in so admirably.

Defensive end Sean Stanley said Morris, who broke up four passes before leaving, had a boot on during and after the game, but it may have been precautionary.

Stanley said Morris may have been able to reenter, but Amos stood tall and held his own in the game’s waning minutes.

“He could’ve played, but [Amos] wasn’t doing a bad job,” Stanley said. “So why not leave him out there?”

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley also thinks that Morris could have played in the second half if he really needed to. I’m thinking that when Morris took himself out of the game and into a boot, he didn’t expect Indiana to be within six points with two minutes left.

Oh well. It sounds like Morris should be able to go against Iowa this week. Meanwhile, right tackle Chima Okoli also hurt his ankle, and junior Mike Farrell came on to replace him. Farrell had himself missed the first four games of the season with a knee injury, so at least the timing was good.

Fellow tackle Quinn Barham commented on Okoli’s injury:

“Chima had a little ankle problems when he’d try to plant on it, it wouldn’t hold up for him,” Barham said. “So they just decided to take him out.”

More interestingly was how Barham acted annoyed at the switching back and forth between guards DeOn’tae Pannell and John Urschel. Just like how fans view the back-and-forth quarterback situation, Barham made it clear that he would be more happy with the same five guys playing on the line for the entire game.

Vegas baby, Vegas

Michael Sedor of seems astonished that Penn State isn’t the underdog in the upcoming match-up with Iowa. Right now, Vegas has the Nittany Lions as a 2.5-point favorite at home on Saturday. Sedor has his colleague Conor Nelson explain what’s going on with that.

Nelson surmised that the reason Las Vegas sees the Nittany Lions triumphing against Iowa is that, “People that don’t ‘know’ PSU just see a 4-1 team with one loss against best team in the country. They also may think that Iowa has been getting lucky in 2011.”

I’m not so sure that the spread isn’t fair. First of all, in an evenly matched game, the home team is generally a 3-point favorite. What Vegas is saying with the 2.5-point spread is that on a neutral field, Iowa would be very slightly favored to defeat Penn State. If the game was in Iowa, the spread would be three or four points in favor of the Hawkeyes.

Second, what makes Iowa so much better than Penn State, anyway? So far they’ve defeated Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe by healthy margins, lost at Iowa State on the road and beat Pitt at home. In the Pitt game, Iowa fell behind 24-3 before starting on a brilliant comeback that paved the way to their eventual victory.

While Penn State does not have any impressive wins, they also don’t have any stunning losses. They’ve played “ugly” football so far, but it’s not as though Iowa hasn’t been just as sloppy. Making a big comeback to beat Pitt at home may get more style points than Penn State’s wins, but something has to be said for how poorly Iowa played to fall behind in the first place.

It seems fair to me to say that Penn State and Iowa are on even ground right now, and that’s what the point spread is making apparent. As of this point, neither team has shown enough to say they are definitely better than the other. Maybe Penn State can even get the spread moved to -2 if they can name a full-time quarterback by the end of the week.

Or maybe we’ll need to wait for one of the candidates to completely meltdown on the field before that ever happens.

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Tags: Chima Okoli Iowa Hawkeyes Stephon Morris

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