This will be a brief synopsis of my take on the loss to Minnesota. I am out of town with only a Kindle for an input device. Typing is tedious.
From the opening kickoff, the game suuuuuuuuuuuuucked and it made clear beyond all doubt that this Penn State team is not yet ready to compete steadily at a level high enough to elevate itself to the top tier of the B1Gb anytime soon. Still, there were some high points to keep us going.
It was good to see ZZ back in form. I wonder whether his role was planned or reactionary after Belton’s fumble on the first play from scrimmage.
Allen “Gimme da Damn Ball” Robinson broke Bobby Engram’s receiving yards record, which had been around longer than Hacky has been in existence. Kudos to the best Penn State receiver ever and a certainty to be ballin’ on Sundays.
Sam Ficken kicked a rifle shot field goal in a stiff wind. (I’m really stretching it looking for some high points).
Wasn’t BoB a bit restrained in disputing that reviewed punt spot? He was. He could have pulled a gun on those officials, but he limited himself to a mere temper tantrum. If he had been right, I would cut him some slack but this isn’t the NFL (cue old MNF theme: dut dut dut daaaaaaa). The ball position is all that matters.
When you don’t take care of fundamentals, you put yourself in the hole, this time inextricably. Fumbling away the ball on the first play from scrimmage set the tone for the Keystone Cops play for the rest of the game. The other bookend was the fumbled snap on the goal line early in the fourth quarter that denied an almost certain score, a touchdown that would have made it a one-possession game, as “they” call it. In between those bookends of doom there existed a library of offensive incompetence, including nine volumes on the subject of how to convert third downs for fun and profit — only one of which was a best-seller. The rest were banned in Boston. (Sorry about the murky metaphor). Yeah, ya gotta make da plays. Ain’t no escaping dat.
The offense couldn’t stay on the field long enough to give the defense a rest. Even when the breaks went their way, they squandered them. There is no better example than the pass interference call in the end zone that gave them the ball on the two when they were about to flame out. Replay showed that it was a dubious calln so it was a gift not to be squandered. With a new series of downs at the two, could they please score, already, thinks I. Nope. Instead, fumble the snap away to the other guys who know how to sustain drives, so they can run out the clock.
And what’s with Felder? He missed a couple catchable balls early but Hacky kept throwing in his direction, even when he had a tight end free and Allen Robinson on the left looking to the heavens for a clue as to why he isn’t getting da damn ball. We know how the Hacky-Rob connection works at its best, so it is frustrating to watch these missed opportunities.
There were some flashes of brilliance by the defense, but as predicted, the overworked, understaffed unit could not stop Minnesota, who did, in fact, exhibit balance in their offense, utilizing the play-action pass in concert with the omnipresent run threat.
A noon starting road game typically has been a problem for Penn State and this was no exception. Minnesota is a program on the upswing at 8-2, a credit to coach Jerry Kill. Their Rose Bowl hopes are alive and well. Penn State sinks to 5-4, but it never had any off-season hopes, so no big deal. Hell, as the Sanguinarians would say, they can still finish 8-4 this year.
Not playing like this, they won’t!
That’s it from the Hotel California. Some dance to remember; some dance to forget. With a proper mental adjustment, I’ll be back later in the week with a look toward Purdue, a team I think is beatable if PSU can fix a few dozen things.