All the polls agree that Penn State is the number five team in the country after this weekend’s games, but this Turkey is not convinced. Even easily handling Syracuse 28-7 was not enough to convince me. After all, this was Syracuse, and they suck.
While the Turkey does not gamble on these games, it must be noted that Penn State failed to cover the spread for the second straight week. Was it Beano Cook who once said that you would never go broke taking the spread against the Nittany Lions?
Having watched the Notre Dame vs. Michigan and USC vs. Ohio State games on Saturday, I am now officially worried about both the UM and OSU games. Those guys are big game ready. Our guys are not. One thing that is definitely missing from the Nittany Lions is fire. The Buckeyes came out for that USC game playing like there was no tomorrow; the Lions tend to look like it’s another day of work in the coal mine. Of course, they were playing against Syracuse, not USC. But I noted that same flatness in the Rose Bowl, where the opponent was, in fact, USC.
The only weakness I observed in OSU’s game was Terrelle Pryor’s two-minute offense performance. By the time the Buckeyes roll into Beaver Stadium on November 7, Pryor might have worked out his mental kinks in that area.
As for Michigan, it looks like Rich Rodriguez has found himself a quarterback in freshman Tate Forcier, who went 23-33 for 240 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT. He showed that he could perform well under big game pressure, winning the game with a touchdown pass with 11 seconds on the clock.
Back to the Syracuse game, my main concern is that the Penn State running game has not yet come together. The Nittany Lions chalked up a measly 78 net rushing yards. I’m not ready to blame Royster (12-41) and Green (8-26). The offensive line is not yet doing its job. Remember, please, that this was against Syracuse, and Syracuse sucks.
Passing was better, with Graham Zug (6-79, 1 TD) showing us why he’s Darryl Clark’s go-to guy. Clark was 20 of 31 with three TDs and an INT.
Syracuse’s only score came after a fumble by backup quarterback Kevin Newsome. Otherwise, the Penn State defense did its job, holding the Orangemen to 200 total yards. But remember, this was Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 Big East), and they suck.
Next week, we have another week off with Temple, and this Turkey better damn well see some improvement in the running game. Until that component comes together, we must look ahead to the Big Ten schedule with some dread. Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State are going to be very tough to win without a ground game. Iowa is coming up the week after Temple. Is that enough time to work out the kinks in the offensive line?
I’ll be back later in the week for a preview of the Temple game, such as it is.
Its nice to hear from you again.
Your assesment of this team is right on the money. If they do not get their o-line in order and running game in check we will be in deep doo doo against Ohio State and Michigan. PSU not being able to puch that one in against a lame SU team was very weak.
With the exception of that last SC drive, the buckeye defense stuffed the Trojans all night. Infact OSU would have won if Tressel was not in the midst of compressing the piece of coal in his ass and turning it into a diamond. He just cant win the big game anymore. It was bittersweet, I found it very difficult rooting for them.
The Nittany Turkey says
Hey, parkeyboy! Long time! (I guess if I took fewer breaks from writing I might hear from you more often.)
I should have written my thoughts about that ridiculous goal line stand. I’m certain that Paterno was thinking that “we gotta punch it in against Syracuse.” I agree, we should have. It brought back memories of a Michigan game of long ago in Beaver Stadium where Paterno tried four times to run up the gut from the two and turned it over on downs. In both cases I was screaming at him to throw it to the tight end. However, as stubborn as Joe is, he wouldn’t have listened even if he had heard me from either Row 77 at Beaver Stadium or my family room in Florida.
This set of offensive linemen is just not moving the pile, creating holes, or pullin’ and trappin’ very well at all. I told da boys (and girl) in my family room that I would be surprised if anything off-tackle worked at all. Granted, Syracuse was selling out on the run a lot, but that’s no excuse. They’re Syracuse, and they suck. What the hell are we going to do with OSU, Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois? Until I see some essence of a running game, I’m even going to worry about Northwestern and Moo U.
But, still, we’ll handle Temple and Eastern Illinois. Probably Indiana and Minnesota, too. If I don’t see a sudden appearance of a rushing offense, I’m going to revise my season prediction to 6-6.
Are you sure you are not a Philly fan — as a Philly fan, I can attest that I am prone to focus upon the horribles — because I certainly know a horrible when I see it. (I have a lot of practice). However, I am (as always) significantly more optomistic about the Nits even though I acknowledge room for improvement.
The running game is lackluster — but the passing game is not. I wonder what life will be like when a defense does not sell out to the run and tries to stop the forward pass. I guess what I am saying is, what we have seen this season are two defenses saying — beat us with the passing game with your young receivers and untested line. It turns out we beat them with our passing game. I wish we were better with the run, but people in hell want ice water. We ain’t in hell. In fact, we are 2-0 and completely untested. We won the games, and barely broke a sweat. Maybe not the best practice for the Big Ten matchups but a pretty good preseason to work the kinks out without sending the fans into cardiac arrest.
Our defense looks dominant — I am worried about only the corners and the more I see our front seven the less worried I am. Plus, over the course of a game, I feel as though the opposing wide outs will be giving some significant respect to the hitting/tackling power of Mr. Astrino (sp?)– he may be small in stature but the man hits hard. He may erase a few mistakes made by corners.
With respect to your fear of the Big Ten and your potential revision to a 6-6 season:
I think Tate Forcier will look surprisingly pedantic when the Nits hit him in the mouth. By the way, Michigan won a game in the last second against a team that lost to Syracuse just last year, and “we” have decided they have righted their ship. I’m not saying — I’m just saying —
Before we annoint the Buckeyes king of the Big Ten for a woulda, coulda , shoulda — the fact remains they lost to a USC team with a freshman QB in his second game in the Horseshoe. I need say nothing more than United States Naval Academy — where the kids come to play; but the talent does not always follow. All we know about the Buckeyes so far is they have a lot of potential. By contrast PSU knows it has a proven commodity at QB (the most important position on the field) and a strong defense.
In sum, you are — of course– right to worry about being able to run the football. However, even if all we can do is pass the football, we will beat most of the Big Ten this year. I worry about many of the same games you ID’d but I am not sure my fears are warranted. Penn State is a pretty solid team and the Big Ten is a not so solid conference this year. Give the line some time, and if we get even the slightest running game going, we could turn into significantly more than “pretty solid.”
It is important to note — that we have in a large measure played pretty heady football in our FIRST TWO games of the year. We have obviously not played perfectly but we have played in a manner that left our overmatched opponents without hope. We have properly dominated them throughout the entirety of the game. I think once we have to play teams that are more of a match; we may see a bit more of the fire we have lacked so far.
As always, we shall see.
The Nittany Turkey says
Yes, we shall see. You raise good points, and yes, I am a perpetual pessimist, although I’m definitely not a Phils fan. (I grew up on the other side of the state, but I gave up on MLB baseball 16 years ago.)
Was Paterno smart in attempting to run up the middle four times against Syracuse’s goal line defense? Was he trying to prove something to the offensive line? We mortals might never know, despite what his response might be to the inevitable question posed at tomorrow’s press conference. Was it heady football? I don’t know. Wouldn’t you have liked to take a shot at Shuler or Quarless on third down? I sure as hell would have. But being an armchair blog coach is easy. I don’t have to answer to the fans, the press, the players, and the administration. On the other hand, no one has to listen to me. In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing some improvements on Saturday. I need for my mind to be at ease when Iowa shows up all pumped up from last year’s victory.
Still, I’ll continue to assert that OSU showed a helluva lot more fire than our guys have. You can hang your hat on the “big game” aspect for OSU, but my feeling is that this is a problem area now, as it has been in the past. Perhaps some of Paterno’s “act like you’ve been there before” philosophy is the reason for it, but I, personally, would like to see 11 wild-ass maniacs on the field at any given point. Well, controlled wild-ass maniacs, as it were.
This is all a build-up to Iowa. We won’t be tested in the slightest by Temple. The goal-line stand by Syracuse was a bit disheartening, but all can be redeemed with a 49-0 win over Temple and a 28-13 win over Iowa.
The goal line stand was disheartening and also reminded me of the Michigan debacle of 1993.
Luckily, Syracuse is not Michigan cerca 1993 and so we survived. I do note that Paterno appeared to learn his lesson in this game because Mickey Shuler did have that TD on a goal line roll out play.
One dangerous lesson may have been “learned” in that series that PSU coaches should avoid “learning”. Clark got rocked on a QB sneak. In the past, PSU rarely utilized the QB sneak in short yardage. Recently, PSU has been much more willing to utilize the sneak. It is a great play and often necessary. I am fearful that because Clark got rocked, we may put it in the vault for the remainder of the year to protect him from injury. That would not be a good thing.
The Nittany Turkey says
Perhaps a good compromise would be to shelve the sneak until the o-line, particularly Wisniewski, learns to handle its associated blocking scheme, which is not very complex. Until that happens, they’re needlessly risking a Clark injury without having a viable backup. Newsome and McGloin clearly need a lot more reps.