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Longtime Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spent several minutes of his weekly press conference Tuesday praising Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley — going so far as to say it’s like playing “12 guys” when he’s on the field.

Ferentz was twice asked about McSorley’s dual-threat ability. And twice he couldn’t say enough about the redshirt senior.

“It’s really tough,” Ferentz said. “And I’ve said it before, thinking about Braxton Miller and some of the guys like that, it’s like playing 12 guys when you’re facing those guys because he can make a play out of nothing. That’s why he’s such a dangerous performer.”

McSorley has twice faced Ferentz, and the Nittany Lions have won both times. In 2016, McSorley finished 11-of-18 passing for 240 yards, two TDs and 40 rushing yards. Last year, Penn State’s signal-caller went 31 of 48 for 284 yards and 61 rushing yards — in addition to launching the game-winning touchdown pass on the last play of the game.

Ferentz certainly hasn’t forgotten about the latter.

“Beyond what he’s doing statistically — running it, throwing it — just the value of what he brings to that football team. If he’s in the huddle, those guys all — I can’t read minds, but I’m guessing all 11 of those guys felt like they were going to get it done last year against us,” Ferentz said.

McSorley has already rushed for a career-high 554 yards this season, making him the fifth-leading rusher in the Big Ten in 2018. That’s causing other reporters and analysts to ask opposing coaches more about McSorley’s legs.

But it wasn’t just his dual-threat ability or throwing arm that impressed Ferentz. It appeared mainly to be the intangibles.

“He can really beat you with his feet or his arm. But, beyond that,” Ferentz said, “the most impressive to me is just what he brings to his team. And I think it’s true of every quarterback; really good quarterbacks bring a lot of value to the team and are really meaningful to a team’s success. I think he really epitomizes that.”

Ferentz added, “Bottom line is he’s a winner. And, every time he’s out on the field, they got a good chance to win.”

McSorley will take the field at 3:30 p.m. Saturday when Penn State and Iowa square off in Beaver Stadium.

What else Ferentz said

On Penn State’s talent level/environment: “One thing about playing Penn State, and this has been true for a long time: You’re guaranteed they’re going to have good players. And they do. They’ve recruited well forever there. They’re tremendously gifted, tremendously athletic, and they’ve got good size, speed, talent — that’s a given. The other part about it is anytime you go to State College, you’re going to play in a great venue. It’s a very challenging place to play. It’s a great college venue, a very loud crowd and enthusiastic crowd.”

On PSU’s defense: “If you’re going to talk about Penn State’s defense to me, it starts up front. They’ve got a lot of guys who are challenging to block and understand leverage, understand good movement. They’re tough, so it’s going to be a challenge for us — but I like the way we’re moving right now at least. And I like our attitude.”

On parallels between McSorley and Iowa QB Nate Stanley: “It’s kind of interesting — I was just thinking about it down there, putting my tie on — you’ve got two quarterbacks that are pretty good quarterbacks in this game, two very different quarterbacks. But neither of them had gone to elite camps, or I don’t think they had any awards coming out of high school for being great quarterbacks, necessarily nationally or on the recruiting front. But they’re just good high school football players that have really blossomed into good college football players. But his (McSorley’s) case is really an illustration of that.”

 

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