IOWA CITY – Since the start of practices this fall, Tom Brands has preached the same sermon to his Iowa wrestling team.
The Hawkeye coach’s fire-and-brimstone message has been about aggression, about taking the mat with passion and a readiness to overwhelm opponents.
Top-ranked Penn State provided Brands with an example of that Saturday night in the way the Nittany Lions humbled third-rated Iowa 24-12 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes won just three matches – scoring on a pin by Tony Ramos and decisions by Derek St. John and Bobby Telford – in Iowa’s most lopsided loss at home since winning just three matches in a 39-13 loss to Minnesota at the end of the 2006-07 dual season.
Brands was disturbed in the way Penn State set the tone from one match to the next.
The Nittany Lions collected initial points in six weight classes and the Hawkeyes scored just nine takedowns in the dual, including four each by Ramos and St. John and one which gave Josh Dziewa an early lead in his match at 141 pounds.
Brands found the lack of aggression – Iowa didn’t pick up a single takedown from any of its entries in the top five weight classes – unsettling.
“If things are going against you in your match, you have to be able to turn it around,’’ Brands said. “That didn’t happen, and when it’s going against your team, you have to be able to turn it around as well and none of that happened. Maybe in February things will be different.’’
Iowa is dealing with some lineup issues.
Thomas Gilman started at 125 after Cory Clark dealt with a weight situation. Brands said the fourth-ranked redshirt freshman is “adjusting to the weight – the one-hour weigh-in,’’ suggesting that Clark made weight but wasn’t ready to compete after doing so.
Brands said both Gilman (7-2) and Clark (9-0) will wrestle at 125 at the Midlands Championships beginning Sunday.
Iowa’s situation at 197 is a little more complex.
Returning starter Nathan Burak has yet to wrestle this season because of what Brands called “medical situation.’’ He said doctors are erring on the side of caution, not wanting the Burak to “regress’’ once he resumes competition.
Redshirt freshman Sammy Brooks has started in Burak’s place and joined Nick Moore and Ethen Lofthouse in losing major decisions to higher-ranked Nittany Lions on Saturday.
Brands indicated that Burak is expected to wrestle at 197 at the Midlands, where Brooks will compete at 184.
Iowa isn’t the only team expecting to learn from what transpired Saturday.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson believes the experience of wrestling at Iowa will benefit the Nittany Lions as well as they work toward earning a fourth consecutive NCAA title.
With both teams competing at the end of finals week, Sanderson labeled execution “a little sloppy.’’
“It’s still early in the season and we can make a lot of progress. That’s kind of our plan, to get better each match,’’ Sanderson said. “You really get exposed when you come to Carver-Hawkeye. The Brandses are very good at figuring out how to beat guys. They are very tactical. It gives you a good idea what to work on.’’