PSU Defeats Indiana 29-7
Before an announced Homecoming crowd of 97,873 on a sunny afternoon in Beaver Stadium, the mighty, division leading, no-longer-aerially-challenged Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) defeated the formerly respected albeit depleted Indiana Hoosiers (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) 29-7. It truly wasn’t as close as it looks.
Gomer Pyle, the lovable dufus from The Andy Griffith Show and, later, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. surely would have exclaimed his signature catch phrase, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” from back home in Indiana upon viewing the Penn State offense’s transformation out of Sphincter Mode. Someone must have released the noose around John Donovan’s scrotum, as Christian Hackenberg was unleashed, producing his best performance of the year to date. For a change, the offensive brain trust strategized a viable game plan based on the conjecture that Indiana’s defense would load up the box and concentrate on stopping the run.
Coaching Strategy: Play Ugly, Then Pounce
Where has the passing game been hiding? Franklin famously explained it, albeit somewhat facetiously, “It really probably came down to, we just wanted to play as ugly as we possibly could for four weeks because we were just saving all that stuff up for this week.” That’s sure what it looks like, although I’m betting that the past crappy performances weren’t planned to be ugly.
Hack completed 21 of 39 for 262 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions and, in spite of the Five Traffic Cones allowing four sacks, albeit bolstered by the return of Andrew Nelson at right tackle, Hack rushed for 21 net yards, including two more touchdowns. On one naked rollout right, Kyle Carter was open in the end zone, begging for the ball, but Hack decided to run it in himself untouched, in view of his newfound running ability against the FBS’s 119th ranked defense.
The Hackster spread the ball out among eight targets in the aerial attack, while the Lynchless, Barkleyless running attack amassed 154 net yards. Primary rushers Nick Scott had eight carries for 57 yards and Mark Allen had eight for 45. Allen famously coughed one up, after which he mouthed off to running backs coach Charles Huff, who put him in his place, but more on this later.
The Penn State defense played solidly, holding Indiana to 234 yards, of which only 79 were on the ground. Indiana was somewhat hampered without its starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and its primo runner Jordan Howard. Backup QB Zander Diamont went down to an injury in the third quarter, replaced by third-stringer red shirt freshman Danny Cameron. If Indiana wasn’t so unlucky, they’d have no luck at all.
See-saw Special Teams
Just when you thought there was some hope for the Penn State special teams leaky pipe, the pipe burst. While Aussie Danny Pasquariello managed a 44.28 yard average punt and a long of 54, Joey “Big Toe” Julius missed two extra points, which a high school girl could have kicked. The return game was pretty crappy, but the coverage on punts and kickoffs was not too shabby, allowing only 23 yards on five punt returns and 20 on a kickoff.
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds, as applies to Penn State states that the third quarter and third down conversions will always be crappy. This game observed that rule quite well. The Nittany Lions converted only five of 14 third-down situations and their third quarter performance was once again pitiful.
In a Huff
Mark Allen fumbled a hand-off from Hack, resulting in a turnover. On the way off the field, Allen gave running backs coach Charles Huff some lip, resulting in some televised violence by the coach. Ben Jones of WMAZ captured the moment and tweeted it.
That’s not a good look. Heat of the moment or not. https://t.co/vPZT1noIyU
— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) October 10, 2015
Sorry, Ben, but this Ben disagrees. Coaches need to coach, and if a player gets wise with them, they need to show him who’s boss using language a player might actually understand: “Physicality.”
Wonder what went on there? In our gathering at Mike’s Garage, before RD fell asleep, a discussion ensued about coaches manhandling players. While RD accused Bobby Knight of smashing a chair over a player’s head, I corrected him, stating that the incident in question was merely a strangling that led to Knight being fired at Indiana. In any case, my feeling is that unless coaches hurt something other than a player’s pride, this type of thing is OK. I don’t think Mark Allen was physically hurt at all, and his performance improved as he was reinserted into the game later.
Allen’s teammates acknowledge that he is “a talker.” In other words, he has a big fucking mouth, and I’m happy that Huff chose to close it. I really don’t agree with some of the outrage expressed by the ever pussified media and fans who are conditioned to think just like them. These are assholes who probably never played in a competitive sport or who, if they did, had their mommies give their coaches a stern talking-to if they even raised their voices at the precious, fragile little darling. What’s this fucking world coming to if a coach cannot get down and dirty with a player who gives him an inappropriate earful?
Here’s the best fan comment I read:
Was at game, didn’t even see it and nobody around me mentioned it either. Apparently whatever he said or did wasn’t that bad because he was back in not long after. As far as the coach grabbing him, I have no problem, this country has gotten so pussified. If you had seen practices with Joe, Woody, Bo, BEar, etc you’d see some stuff that would make your head spin
Don’t get me started about litigious parents and that kind of bullshit. Next thing you know, parents will be telling USMC drill sergeants to keep their hands off their precious little babies in boot camp.
Oops, what’s that you say? They already have? Harrumph!
This editorial has gone on for too long.
Wrapping It Up
Please put this victory in perspective. Without Sudfeld, Indiana, in the words of our own critic K. John, is “not for real.” By the way, K. John had the best prediction: 24-10. Kudos for recognizing the game for what it was. Artificially Sweetened also predicted 24-10, but she gave credit to K. John for the idea.
Looking down the road, the Rule of Thirds must get fixed if the Lions are going to have a halfway decent season. Don’t get cocky about the 5-1 record! I’m liking the improvements I’m seeing, but some disturbing backsliding is going on in some areas like special teams. Let’s hope the leaky pipe syndrome abates with the “meat” of the Big Ten schedule ahead and ToiletBowl.com Bowl eligibility hanging in the balance.
It now looks like #12 Michigan is “for real”, while #1 tOSU and #7 Moo U. are showing signs of leaky pipes of their own. The Bucknutz gave up a touchdown in each quarter to Maryland in their 49-28 victory on Saturday, while Moo U. narrowly averted a disaster against Rutgers, winning 31-24.Michigan has now recorded three straight shutouts, the last one over formerly “for real” #20 Northwestern, 38-0. (Well, they were ranked, anyway.) Meanwhile, undefeated #17 Iowa continues to roll in the West. The Michigan vs. Moo U. game on Saturday can tell us a lot — Michigan is favored by seven at home. Could we be looking at a Michigan vs Iowa Big Ten championship game? Too soon to predict that, I know, with “the meat” of serious Big Ten competition dangling ahead.
I’ll be back with lots of drivel about Ohio State in the week leading up to the big clash at The Horseshoe.
K. John says
I am starting to think Michigan might be for real, but then I look at their box scores and think that they more resemble the 2004 Nittany Lions than anything else. Great defense, horrible offense. What gives? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I am just not sure. I just think back to their game against Utah, which like Saturday’s game against Indiana, wasn’t nearly as close as the score and that their offense hasn’t look any better since, they just keep their QB from making hard throws preventing interceptions while capitalizing on opponents mistakes.
Ultimately, I thought they would stink going into the year. They at least stink on offense and boy do they stink. They have the worst offense and QB in the East. While I am not sold, that defense is not making many mistakes and bringing a new meaning to the old adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” because think might have one player that starts in Happy Valley. No more than two to be certain.
The Nittany Turkey says
Based on that perspective of “for realness” the Wolverines are more for real than Penn State.as they rank 78th and 2nd in total offense and total defense, respectively, as opposed to the Nittany Lions’ 103rd and 10th. Surely, I’m missing some mitigating circumstances in my simplistic stat-spouting.
Big Al says
Well, Penn State’s offense performance against Indiana wasn’t extraordinary. They just did what you should do against a bad defense. State’s total offense of 420 yards (266 passing 154 rushing) ranks 4th out of Indiana’s 6 opponents. By comparison, Wake Forest, which probably has the worst offense of any “Power 5” team, racked up 363 total yards (264 passing and 99 rushing) against Indiana. State’s total offense was only 14 yards more than what the number 5 team (FIU) got and 100 yards less than Indiana’s other 3 opponents.
State’s defense, on the other hand, dominated Indiana like no other team has this year. They gave up only 234 yards and every other team Indiana played allowed more than 400 yards. A lot of this success was probably due to 3rd string quarterback playing the entire 2nd half, but they put in a dominant 1st half. We’ll never know whether they would have maintained that domination if Zander had been healthy while our offense’s took their usual 3rd quarter siesta.
I don’t know what “Rule of 3” you alluded to your write-up. If you meant that State has played well one third of the time (Rutgers, Indiana), mediocre one third of the time (Buffalo, SD State) and shit the bed awful one third of the time (Temple, Army) I completely agree. It looks like last year’s trend of playing well every third game is still intact. So that’s good news for the Illinois and Moo U games, but not such good news for the games with tOSU and the Turtles. I just hope they don’t save the shit game for the fighting Locksleys.
The Nittany Turkey says
My facetious Rule of Threes referred to crappy 3rd quarters and crappy 3rd down conversion rate, but you brought up an even better allusion. One-third well, one-third fair-to-middlin’, and one-third pure crap. That sums up this season and last.
The offense was OK given that they were facing #119, but how will it do against “the Fighting Harbaughs”, as Beth Mowins called Michigan on Saturday? That defense might actually be for real.
There are no gimmes, IMHO, so in what game will the Nits attain bowl eligibility, if any?