Sorry to keep yinz waiting for my comments about the Youngstown State penguin fry. I’m the only football writer here on the Turkey staff, so I’ve got to write when I can. Well, hell, I think I’m the only anykinda writer at the Turkey. I wish I could talk Artificially Sweetened into writing an occasional column with her perspective on football—or anything else, for that matter. Maybe, if I can pry her away from Facebook long enough, I can get that ol’ cowgirl to reverse her original decision on the matter, possibly, perhaps. But I digress.
As you know, the Nittany Lions took care of slicing and dicing the Penguins quite nicely, 44-14. In the process, [insert hackneyed cliche about Bolden showing he’s worthy of starting]. Yeah, Rob Bolden was quite impressive against a team that the Sweater Vest used to coach before he grabbed the brass ring with the Buckeyes. That’s about the best thing I can say about them unless I want to humiliate the Penguins further. I should have no qualms about doing that, because they’re the ones who get the gratuitous big payday for laying down and dying before the Big Ten middle-of-the-pack Lions. Well, anyhow, before Newsome came in for mop up duty, Bolden had a helluva good day, 20-39 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The 6’4″/208 lb true freshman stringbean showed the rather anemic paid crowd of 101,213 the skills of a seasoned quarterback.
Notice that I didn’t use the word “frosh” once during my lionization of Bolden. For some reason, I hate that word. I guess it’s a good thing to have in one’s mental thesaurus when writing headlines and captions, where “freshman” is just too wide. But what the hell? M-W.com says it was first used around 1915 as a shortening of the real word. I say we don’t need the Crisco anymore. It sounds dumb and it is archaic. Let’s send this one back to the last century, from whence it came.
Whoa, Turkey! What’s all the bitching about?
I have a damn cold, so certain untoward things annoy my irascible ass even more than usual. Besides, I like tangential tirades.
So, anyhow, why am I talking about a reprise of the quarterback controversy? Simply this: Newsome did not come to Penn State to take a pine splintered backseat for four years, and that’s where it looks like he is headed if Bolden does what everyone expects him to do. Newsome backed up Daryll Clark last year and expected to start this year. He lost the starting job to our new freshman sensation, fair and square. On the other hand, McGloin is a walk-on, so his expectations are dissimilar. It would have been a wonderful accomplishment for him to have won the top spot, but no big deal now that he didn’t. Finally, Jones will be red-shirted unless something happens with either Newsome or McGloin. Based on all this drivel, my guess is that Newsome has the most to gain by finding a new home, and I think he will do so after this season. What do you think?
Maybe this is counting my Turkey chicks before they hatch. After all, Bolden has played exactly one game. Lots of things can happen this coming week. Don’t expect the Alabama defense to let Bolden sit in the pocket for a leisurely 10 seconds with time enough to scratch his nuts before launching a pass. In fact, don’t expect there to be a pocket for very long. Bolden better be sharp with his short timing patterns, because he’s going to have a lot of crimson in his face all day. He’ll have a hostile crowd of over 100,000 there, too. Down in Tuscaloosa, they ain’t gon’ be wantin’ to let no upstart quarterback get the drop on their vaunted national champs. It will be a rockin’, sockin’ experience for an 18 year-old guy who was playing high school ball this time last year. This is an extreme test. There’s no easing into it. I’m hoping that he’ll be able to stay safe for the whole game. Pray for his well being.
The rushing game, particularly Royster, didn’t work against the Penguins. Really? Yeah, you read that right. I’m still feeling weird about writing it. The cobbled together Penn State offensive line wasn’t helping at all. Royster wound up with 11 carries for 40 yards. How the hell will that play against Alabama? David Jones of the Patriot-News thinks that Royster is substantially slower than last year because he is carrying 15 more pounds. It is hard to tell whether that’s true, however, if the damn offensive line doesn’t create any room for him to run.
What worked well for PSU were the special teams, for a change. Chaz Powell gave us a flashy 100-yard kickoff return and another worth 28 yards. Collin Wagner was a perfect 3-3 in field goal tries, with a long kick of 49 yards. All were over 43 yards, a distance at which Wagner was inconsistent at best during the previous season. Furthermore, using newly conscripted punter Anthony Fera for kickoffs proved to be a good strategy. He can actually boot the ball deep. Big improvement from last year when I couldn’t write much of anything good about special teams.
While Graham Zug was inexplicably absent from the passing game, Brett Brackett made up for it by snagging 8 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Derek Moye added 5 receptions for 61 yards. Brackett seems to be Bolden’s favorite target. However, he’s going to have to spread the ball around with Alabama, and he’ll have to use the tight end as well. In any case, it is clear to this Turkey that an effective passing game will needed, as I expect the Tide defense to roll against the run.
In all, Youngstown State was a good, but not spectacular, tune-up game for the Nittany Lions. I have seen no reason as yet to hop off my season prediction of 7-5. This weekend should tell us a lot about this group’s moxie, and I’ll be back with you later in the week with my thoughts on the forthcoming Alabama game.