IOWA CITY, Iowa — Penn State coach James Franklin called out Iowa fans who booed his defensive players receiving medical attention shortly after the No. 2 Hawkeyes beat the No. 7 Nittany Lions 23-20 at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
“I do have a little bit of a hard time with our players getting hurt, and the fans and the coaches and the staff booing our players,” Franklin told reporters outside the locker room Saturday. “They don’t run a tempo offense. It was not part of our plan.”
Tuesday, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz responded and it was terse.
“First of all, I know a couple of players were legitimately hurt,” Ferentz said. “I know that. I saw one sitting on the bench. I just had, for whatever reason, like there was an opening, I saw him and I know he had an ice bag on his leg.
“Obviously, I know the quarterback didn’t come back. I hope those guys are well. I don’t know what their status is. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt. Nobody. But I think it’s probably a reaction to a couple of guys that were down for the count then came back a play or two later. Our fans aren’t stupid. They’re watching, they know what’s going on.”
Then Ferentz’s rhetoric intensified.
“I’ve been here 23 years. I think that’s only the second time we’ve seen that kind of stuff going on,” Ferentz said. “I know it’s a topic nationally right now; it was one of the discussions of the rules making. Nobody quite knows the answer to it. I also know for a fact, there are two people in our building that have been places where ‘scuba’ or ‘dive,’ err ‘scuba’ and ‘turtle’ were the code words.
“We don’t coach it. Haven’t really been exposed to it. But our fans thought they smelled a rat, I guess, I don’t know, and they responded the way they responded.”
Trainers aided five different Penn State defensive players during the top-five matchup, and the boos from Iowa fans intensified nearly every time a player was hurt. Nearly all of them came after Iowa big plays.
The first was early when star defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher was injured five plays into the opening series. Late in the first quarter, following a 20-yard run from Iowa running back Tyler Goodson, Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker left the game with an apparent left shoulder injury. Iowa guard Cody Ince also injured his shoulder on the play. Ince walked off the field, while trainers attended to Brisker.
Midway through the second quarter, Penn State defensive tackle Dvon Ellies was helped by medical personnel after apparently injuring his left elbow. That came during Iowa’s first touchdown drive after a Goodson 4-yard carry and two plays after Iowa hit a 22-yard pass.
One series later in the second quarter, after Penn State linebacker Ellis Brooks blasted Iowa wide receiver Arland Bruce following an 11-yard gain, safety Jonathan Sutherland was helped by trainers after a hit from Ince.
Midway through the third quarter, in an incident that Iowa special teams coach LeVar Woods mockingly re-enacted on the sideline, Penn State defensive lineman Arnold Ebiketie fell down without contact and needed attention after an 18-yard Goodson carry.
“You’re hearing the boos,” Fox broadcaster Joel Klatt said on the telecast. “You know why you’re hearing the boos? Every time Iowa gains more than 10 yards or 12 yards, there’s somebody who goes down on the Penn State defense. There’s been an injury after every big play that Iowa has had. The fans here recognize that, and they are upset by it.”
“I didn’t really see much of what actually happened, if they ever got hit or anything,” Iowa guard Kyler Schott said. “That’s all up to the fans’ discretion, and they thought they’re faking it so the fans let them know what they thought. If I was actually hurt, though, and was on the ground, I wouldn’t appreciate it, but it is what it is. If they thought I was faking it, I mean, it happens.”
In 2011, Michigan State seemingly employed a tactic of faking injuries against Iowa every time the Hawkeyes went hurry-up on offense.
“When an offense is moving like that the smart move is to just go down and just take your time and don’t kind of rush through it,” Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy said at the time. “That’s what we went out there and did.”
(Photo: Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports)