“I think we left a lot of points off the board.” —Bill O’Brien
Even though I fell asleep several times during the televised game coverage PSU’s victory over Temple, its results were satisfying in many different areas, not the least of which was evidence of the continued comeuppance of starting quarterback Matt McGloin. Most satisfying, the scoreboard reflected a fairly easy victory over an opponent that many pundits had opined was seriously ready to beat Penn State for the first time since World War II. The Lions, under McGloin’s stewardship, had no trouble dispatching the Hooters, 24-13.
The Nittany Lions (2-2) now prepare themselves for the B1G schedule after a doubt laden non-conference schedule that has fortunately trended in the right direction.
One thing that hasn’t trended in the right direction is attendance, which was announced at 93,680. I don’t know what the break-even point is for a game at Beaver Stadium, but it has to cost a helluva lot of money to run that barn. Fortunately, there are the TV rights, and this game got the full ESPN2/ABC reverse mirror treatment.
McGloin’s day should pump up his confidence going into the meat of the schedule. St. Matthew was 24/36 passing for 318 yards, a TD, and an INT that wasn’t his fault. He spread the ball around, too, finding nine receivers during the course of the easy win. On the ground, McGloin called his own number six times, scoring two touchdowns in the process, in one case carrying a couple of Hooters on his back.
And speaking of career days, our much maligned kicker, S-Fick, was perfect: three for three in extra points, and one 21-yard field goal that split the uprights more perfectly than Euclid’s bisection method.
Obviously, Penn State is nowhere near being out of the woods with respect to special teams, but it was good to see a smile on Ficken’s face for a change. The return game is anemic, the punting is short, and coverage can stand a major improvement. Yeah, they need work, but this was a confidence builder for the beleaguered Ficken.
Without Belton and Day, the ground attack should have been crippled, but senior fullback Michael Zordich has something to say about that. During the past two games, we’ve seen Zordich blossom into an all-purpose back. Although sophomore China shop bull Zach Zwinak took more snaps (18, for 94 yards), Zordich’s 15 for 75 gave him a career day. It was great fun watching the Lumbering Leviathan® chug forward in his style reminiscent of the old days of football. The vision that came to mind was Mike Alstott during his pro days at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both 6-1, Alstott’s playing weight was about 10 pounds heavier than Zordich, but they both play that pile-driving style. Zordich, like Alstott, can catch a pass from time to time just to mix things up. In today’s effort, the big guy caught four for 39 yards total, with the long one being a thing of behemoth beauty, a 27 yard scamper after the catch. (Wait, scamper doesn’t seem like the right word here, but I digress.)
The Nittany Lions doubled up on the Owls in first downs, and they looked much better converting eight of fifteen third down tries. To have any chance of a successful B1G schedule, however, the third down performance will have to remain consistently good.
Penn State amassed close to 500 all-purpose yards while holding the Hooters (1-2) to only 237.
With nine penalties, it wasn’t a particularly clean game. There was a single turnover, an interception, that didn’t have to be, if Moseby-Felder could catch a football. Careful, kid, if you keep it up, you’re heading for the defensive secondary!
This Turkey must confess that he thought Matt Brown would be a bigger problem for the Lions than he turned out to be. The tiny titan (5’5″ – 165 lb) from Baltimore was almost a non-factor, with only four carries and twenty-six yards. He never managed to slip free as I thought he would.
And now, we face the B1G schedule, beginning with a couple of nooners, first at Illinois and then back home for NWU. This is where it gets interesting, folks, even if you think the Nittany Lions belong in the ACC.
I got this outta the way early so I could load my mango colored kayak on the gas guzzling SUV and do some lazy human-powered paddling on a lazy human-powered river for a mosquitofull sunrise jaunt replete with alligators and contemplation of my navel. I’ll miss all of you. Don’t be jealous.
We’ll be back (if not eaten by an alligator) to give you a preview of the forthcoming rumble in Urbana against the Mighty Braves of Chief Illiniwek, who were just routed by the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 52-24. This should be a fun B1G start for the Nittany Lions.
The offense had its best day against the best defense they’ve played so far. The defense was less impressive. Coyer missed wide open receivers for touchdowns twice and his receivers dropped at least 3 catchable balls. Despite that, he still competed half his passes – a big improvement over what he did against Maryland.
La Tech’s victory over Illinois wasn’t surprising (although the margin of victory was). La Tech, not Ohio (sorry blue Kool Ade drinkers) is this year’s best candidate for a non BCS Bowl Buster. They still have to play Virginia and Texas A&M, but the rest of their schedule is a cake walk.
The next two games will determine just how good Penn State is (or how bad the B1G is). Illinois defense is a lot like State’s – strong against the run and weak against the pass. And passing is the Illinois offense’s strength. So, this matchup will pit each teams offensive strength against their opponent’s defensive weakness.
Northwestern is probably the B1Gs surprise team this year. They’ve always been dangerous offensively, but the defense has been better than expected so far. They’ll probably be favored against State.
This is going to be a very weird year in the B1G. A Stagg-Censored trophy game match-up of Purdue versus Northwestern wouldn’t be surprising.