Temple 27, Penn State 10
As if the score alone is not enough of a disaster, losing MLB Nyeem Wartman-White for the season means that the already thin linebacking corps will be even thinner. As you certainly know by now, Temple (1-0) beat Penn State (0-1) 27-10, snapping a winning streak that dated back over 60 years before a sold-out Lincoln Financial Field crowd in Philadelphia, a crowd that was much decidedly Temple-partisan.
I guess by showing uncharacteristic, albeit unfounded, faith in this Nittany Lions team at this early juncture, I must have angered the gods of football decency or something. How could this even happen?
Our vaunted Penn State defense played well for a quarter and then let the floodgates open. Who else out there thought that the defense would hold Temple to single-digit points?
The defense letting up was partially the fault of the offense given its inability to keep the D-boys off the field. What offense? We saw a little in the first quarter and then, bupkis. Who else thought the offensive line had to improve because they couldn’t get any worse than they were last year?
Oh, yeah? Let’s pick on the offensive line for a while, a group that lived completely up to its reputation as “Five Traffic Cones” by giving up ten sacks of Christian Hackenberg. Ten! We thought last year was bad, with 44. Here, in the first game of the season, we have accomplished the almost unthinkable. Penn State is on track to eclipse last year’s sack total before mid-season. And this was Temple, not Ohio State, not Michigan, and not Moo U. Paris Palmer, the 6’7″ 300 lb junior college transfer left tackle was a statue henceforth to be dubbed the Colossus of Rhodes. Expectations for him were not great in the first place, because he’s new and he’s replacing a left tackle who is now competing for a starting spot in the NFL. The rest of the guys, who have been together for a while were said to be teaching him well. Oy vay! Four Traffic Cones teaching the Fifth how to be an effective traffic cone? Is there any hope for this group or for their coach, Herb Hand, who has been doing this for 26 years?
I know what’s going to happen now. It’s so predictable. People will [still] be calling for offensive coordinator John Donovan’s head. We need someone more like Showtime’s hit man Ray Donovan up there in the booth calling plays.
Akeel Lynch showed that he is a serviceable running back, but not behind this group of statues, that’s for damn sure. He wound up with 78 yards on 10 carries and Penn State’s only touchdown. But Penn State wound up with only 180 yards, of which 77 were rushing yards. Temple doubled up on the Nittany Lions’ rushing output, and eclipsed Penn State passing by 65 yards.
Penn State was 2-13 in third down conversions versus Temple’s 7-17. Time of possession was a ridiculous 36:15 to 23:45, in Temple’s favor.
Christian Hackenberg didn’t fare so well, obviously. Again, enough excuses have been made for the kid that he’s carrying the team on his shoulders and he stuck with Penn State when times are tough. Those were good for the past two years, but this year we all acknowledge that he has to actually show something. In fact, his NFL stock is declining sharply and any more of this kind of crap will render him undraftable. His quarterback rating for this abortion of a game was 3.2. Three point two! I did not even know QBRs went that low! He wound up with 11-25 for 103 yards and one interception, aside from racking up -59 yards “rushing” due to the plethora of sacks. The ugly pick-six interception Hack threw to Sharif Finch looked eerily like something that happened to John Sacca in the Miami game in what was it, 1985? Obviously, the Traffic Cones are part of Hack’s problem that ain’t going away anytime soon. However, what must go away is his head-hanging, pouting, give-up attitude when the chips are down. One Temple Linebacker even said it appeared as if Hack stopped playing.
Many other questions beg to be asked about this game, but I’ll spare you, since you’ve already started asking them. All I know is that it doesn’t look good for Penn State at the moment. Of course, we all harken to and take comfort from the distant echoes of St. Joe, who was wont to say, “You’re never as good as you think you are when you win, and you’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose.” Yeah, but I’m afraid that in this case the offense might be just as bad as we think it is. The defense could use some work, too, but injuries are unpredictable.
What I’m afraid of more than anything else is that this team lacks a sense of commitment and motivation. It’s early, yeah, but I thought they would have a point to prove that would send a proverbial message to future opponents. Instead, the message they sent is that this is not only a beatable team, but one that beats itself, given a little adversity. That suuuuuuuuuuuucks!
Special teams provided a ray of hope, such as it was, even with the unorthodox Joey Julius as the centerpiece. Special teams can win the close ones for ya. Why do I have a feeling now that there won’t be many close ones this year? Dan Pasquariello punted nine times — NINE! — for an average of 39 yards. Freshman Koa Farmer showed that he is a valuable kick returned, having run back one for 35 yards and having averaged 25 yards overall for his five returns.
Let me not take anything away from an full-game 100% effort by the Temple Owls and their head coach Matt Rhule! Awesome job, Matt! You’re one guy of whom I can be Penn State Proud today. This will help big time in Pennsylvania recruiting, so you won’t have to be playing all those guys from Florida in the future. Things are looking up for Temple.
The gamblers whose money comes before their emotions bid Penn State down to a seven point favorite and set the over/under at 44. My projection defied them. I probably won’t make that mistake again this season!