For one thing, the Temple game proves that Penn State is not a finely tuned, completely focused offensive juggernaut. Looking at the scoring lines from the Nittany Lions’ 45-3 win over Temple Saturday, you see goose eggs in the first quarter. The “finely tuned, completely focused offensive juggernaut” took that long to get over its Friday night hangover and start playing. It was a mess. So much so that, having started watching the game from my DVR with about 20 minutes already recorded, I skipped through much of the first period. Who wants to watch a bunch of grown men shitting in their pants and treating the ball like a dildo slicked with a whole tube of K-Y? This Turkey sure as hell doesn’t.
Yeah, I know. Scoreboard, man. The mighty Nittany Lions scored 31 points in the first half, so what do I want from them? What I want is four quarters. They’ll need four quarters against Illinois. I’m now reading a lot of blow-hard crap about Illinois not being as good as we originally thought. That might be the case, but at least they’ve had some opposition in playing Missouri. I’ve even seen some weenie comparing the PSU offense with Missouri’s. Hell, folks, we don’t even know if Penn State has an offense yet. How about stopping the chicken counting? Yeah, yeah. Big deal. Look at that big damn scoreboard and see those huge numbers. Penn State 211, Opponents 40. The pollsters seem to think they merit a #12 ranking. But who have they played? One FCS lackey and three FBS also-rans?
Don’t get too excited—yet.
If we’re still talking about offensive juggernauts and still ringing up an average of 52 points per game on this date next month, then I’ll shut up. I’ll also let you line up at Kaufmann’s Big Store at Fifth and Smithfield in da ‘Burgh, so I can kiss your sorry asses, one at a time. Oops, that’s Macy’s now. Well, it was Kaufmann’s when I left Pittsburgh in 1960; that’s all I know. I looked it up and the clock is still there. So, line up there when the time comes. I’ll bring the Chapstick.
These Lions are going to have to bring their A-game for four full quarters in order to stand a chance of even remote success in the Big Ten.
OK, so enough of that. I’ll let the other blogs glow while I simmer cautiously.
Do you know who ranks #1 in kickoff returns of all BCS schools? Take one guess and the first three don’t count. That’s right, Temple. They were #4 before coming to Happy Valley and by virtue of their performance or the Nittany Lions’ lack of same—ok, a little of both—they wound up #1. This aspect of Penn State’s game has needed work for many years. How do these guys look at themselves in the mirror? They allowed 221 yards! One Temple return stud, Travis Shelton, had three returns totaling 149 yards, so Kelly started kicking to the other side. The guy on that side, Jamal Schulters, averaged “only” 24 yards. I watched Shelton on one return for 74 yards and thought I was looking at Devin Hester. Time after time our kickoff coverage unit has allowed the opponents to start all too close to mid-field. This crap has to stop, even though the PSU “offensive juggernaut” is probably going to be scoring less and thus kicking off probably at most four or five times per game. If Kelly can get his leg working and put a few of those deep into the end zone, there will be fewer returns to cover. On the other hand, savvy opponents who view tapes of PSU kickoff coverage against the likes of the roosters, the beavers, the oranges, and the owls will be licking their chops and might throw caution to the wind with respect to running kickoffs out of their end zone.
Penn State doesn’t have a special teams coach. Do you think it should? Who actually coaches these guys? Do you think it is a matter of which personnel are on the field covering kickoffs or who mentors them?
Neither Clark nor Devlin had a particularly good day. Clark looked particularly putrid in the first quarter. Fortunately, I didn’t get to see all of that. Devlin was called in to execute a two-minute drill close to the end of the first half. It was good to put the kid in the line of fire so he could get some game feet, but he did not impress me with his reaction to the pressure of the situation. (Contrast it with Terrelle Pryor’s four touchdown performance in his first OSU start if you want to say he’s a green rookie. Huh? Huh?) This Turkey’s assessment is that Devlin is not yet ready for prime time, but it was good to see that our coaching brain trust, such as it is, is actually giving him some game reps. This Big Fowl here wonders, however, whether Devlin will be logging a lot more pine time now that the Big Ten season is nigh. What do you all think?
I was happy to see Quarless out there getting a few receptions. Involving the tight end, especially one who can catch and make something happen after the catch, can go a long way toward legitimizing this high potential offense. I didn’t look closely at Quarless’ blocking, though. If he still cannot block, then he’s going to be inserted only on passing downs and his presence will be a tip-off to the opponents. So, the uncharged Ganja Boy #3 better have learned how to block and he better keep his off-the-field nose clean.
I was also happy to see Deon Butler sticking with his block all the way down the field on Stephfon Green’s 69-yard touchdown scamper. These PSU receivers aren’t afraid to block. I hope they all begin to crave contact, like Hines Ward of the Steelers.
The offensive line is the best unit on the team, hands down. Still, we have to see how they fare against equally talented Big Ten defenses. They really haven’t encountered any serious speed or size as yet. The fun starts this week.
Navorro Bowman was a monster. Every time I looked at a defensive play, #18 was in it. The sophomore linebacker was awarded co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. He was really the only linebacker who looked like he didn’t have his thumbs up his ass out there. In his first start, Bowman recorded career highs with 11 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks while adding a forced fumble and his first interception. He pushed the opposing offense back 17 yards with his tackles for loss, including 13 yards with three sacks, and returned the pick 29 yards inside the Owls’ 20-yard line.
Penn State’s aging head coach, Joseph Vincent Paterno, defied reports that said he would coach the entire game from the press booth by coming out of the tunnel with the team. Later, he took the elevator. At the game’s conclusion, it was assistant coach Tom Bradley who shook hands with Temple head coach Al Golden. In his post-game press conference, Paterno didn’t want to talk about it.
Regardless of from which aspect he was coaching, this was Joe Paterno’s 376th lifetime victory as a head coach, which leads all NCAA FBS coaches. Bobby Bowden of FSU, by virtue of his team’s loss to Wake Forest, dropped to second place with 375.
Temple really should be 3-1 this year, but for some bad fortune. In spite of my classifying Temple as one of Penn State’s non-conference Patsies, I do not mean to detract any from the success of Al Golden with his Owls. They show great potential for the future, and will ultimately do well in the MAC, assuming that Spanier doesn’t hire Golden away from them to replace Paterno. But I digress.
Our guest reporter, Temple alumnus Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., has a few words of advice for this young team:
- Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
- The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now.
- Sex education may be a good idea in the schools, but I don’t believe the kids should be given homework.
- People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.
- Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy.
- Women don’t want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think – in a deeper voice.
We’ll be back later in the week with a look ahead to our first “real” opponent of the season, the mighty Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I’m hearing rumblings that the opening line on the game is PSU by 14. Hmmm…might be an overlay in the making.