The Nittany Lions won as expected on Saturday, while Silas Redd (#25 above) established himself as the latest great running back in PSU’s long line, the quarterback controversy continued, and Joe Paterno had the sense to coach the game from the booth.
Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) defeated the FCS Indiana State Sycamores (0-1, 0-0 MVC) 41-7 before an anemic announced crowd of 96,461 at Beaver Stadium. Bragging rights accrue to the Turkey, who predicted a 45-10 outcome.
Silas Redd, with the help of lead blocking by fullback Michael Zordich, rang up 104 yards on 12 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Redd has bulked up a bit, having clearly worked on strength in the off-season.
The quarterbacking duo of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin went 12-20 passing for a total of 114 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Back in The Cave, I entertained a motley collection of nine Penn State fans with a veritable plethora of shapes, sizes, and degree of fervor for Penn State football. The opening game of a new season is always a thrill because old friends who have survived the long, hot, footballess Central Florida summer resume their socializing in quest of their initial football fix. The menu featured some great cocktail shrimp cooked by Jackstand’s half-brother Steve, preceding the traditional steak (courtesy of Jackstand) and Caesar salad, prepared by Artificially Sweetened under my harsh but loving supervision. Wine accompaniments were provided by zbeard. But I digress.
The game was essentially all but decided when Chaz Powell ran the opening kickoff 95 yards to paydirt with a mere 13 seconds elapsed from the game clock. The Nittany Lions went on to add three more touchdowns by the end of the first half, ending all hope for the hapless Sycamores, who were impotent in the face of Penn State’s offensive juggernaut. The Lions had 21 first downs to the Sycamores’ 8 and doubled up Indiana State on total yards (357). PSU played an error-free game, although HQB (half quarterback) Matt McGloin tried to get rid of the ball once while being sacked, throwing it to a defender and getting lucky when the defender dropped it. The Lions were penalized seven times for forty-five yards.
So, this was a typical tune-up game, from which we were able to glean strengths and weaknesses in the fledgling 2011 edition of the Nittany Lions. As I mentioned earlier, Silas Redd is one of the strengths we noted. Redd will be monster this season, as long as he can stay healthy. Getting plays called and relayed in to the players before the play clock expires constitutes a “feature” that was gladly missing from this opus, which had a lot to do with Joe Paterno coaching from the booth. As for weaknesses, Penn State still is running a two-quarterback offense with no resolution in sight, the offensive line is ineffectual with respect to pass protection, and the kicking game is horrible. Evan Lewis missed both of his field goal attempts, missed one extra point, and delivered stinking, short kickoffs.
Let this win not cause a week-long spate of euphoria inspiring rethinking your prior season predictions. Given its margin of victory and big play crowd appeal, listless minds are bound to extrapolate it to a 12-0 season or some such foolishness. We learned a few things about the 2011 Nittany Lions: the offensive line needs work (as usual), the kicking game needs work, and someone needs to make an executive decision about whom will be the number one quarterback. Unfortunately, Week Two brings the Alabama Crimson Tide to Beaver Stadium to exploit all of the Penn State weaknesses.
We’ll be back later in the week with a preview of that big Alabama game.