This here turkey is muy afortunada in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. First and foremost, we are still here. As a bonus, not only did the house hold up during hurricane force winds, but I never lost power. ?????? ??????? The estimate being bandied about by the media is that 60% of Floridians are without power. Ice is selling out at reopened stores as soon as it is delivered to the store. A neighborhood a half-mile away from me is flooded, as are many other Florida neighborhoods, from Key West to Jacksonville. The cleanup is going well — neighbors helping neighbors — and people are getting back to watching football again.
Football Back to Front Seat
Speaking of football, there was that Pitt game. I’m sure that by this time you’re all well aware of the 33-14 win and the pluses and minuses of the Nittany Lions’ performance. ????? ?????? Nevertheless, I’ll give you a few dumbass observations from the turkey.
Although the offensive line has improved since the days of the Five Traffic Cones, they’re still a deficient bunch. They weren’t making running room for Saquon Barkley in the first half, and Trace McSorley was rushing throws that wound up off-target.
Barkley Saves Our Ass
Barkley took over in the second half, which was needed. Although he wound up with less than 100 yards rushing (88, to be exact), he did damage as a receiver (45 yards, 1 TD) and as a kick returner (50 more yards on two returns). I think this was a game that he had to save our butts in, and he did.
However, Barkley’s backup, Miles Sanders, looked awful, fumbling the ball and rushing for a whopping -2 yards. Someone is going to have to step in for Barkley once in a while, and young Miles better step up his game damn soon.
No Defense for Pitt Shovel Pass?
What’s up with that?
Special Teams and Special Characters
I was quite impressed with the punt coverage. Our special teams have improved exponentially. Qadree Henderson was bottled up on all three of his punt returns, for a total of zero yards. This is a guy who hurt the Nittany Lions last year, who was rendered ineffectual in this year’s game. Kudos to the punt coverage unit!
Another shout-out goes to DeAndre Thompkins, who had only one reception for 12 yards, but who demonstrated some bad-ass run blocking on the outside, springing a few runs for long gains.
And finally, Mike Gesicki, who a couple of years ago couldn’t catch a guppy in a one gallon bowl with a net, caught four passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Zick — you da man!
One more negative to dwell on — a kick out of bounds gave Pitt great starting field position. I know that they were trying to kick away from Henderson, but jeez! I don’t expect to see that penalty two weeks in a row, and it better stop!
Ball control is a concept that will have to be addressed as we get past the cupcakes and into the meat of the season. A so-called quick strike offense is a great thing when inferior opponents can be put away fast. Against quality opponents, not so much. The defense stays out on the field, gets tired, and gets run over in the second half. Pitt managed the ball and the clock 38:20 – 21:40. Some impressive red zone defense by the Nits thwarted what could have been an embarrassing day for the good guys. Being out-first-downed 24-14 and succeeding on only four of twelve third-down conversions is not going to work in the Big Ten. Work on playing possession football, guys!
So, that sloppy effort was reflected in trading places in the polls with Southern Cal, who beat Stanford. The #5 Nittany Lions are 2-0, as most of us expected, going into another cupcake week, this one in prime time, at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver. ???? ???? ??????
I’ll be back with a preview and prediction for them other Panthers.
Big Al says
I’m glad you survived Irma without any significant damage or losing power.. Seems like the Keys and Jacksonville got the worst of it.
Based on their performance against Pitt, State hasn’t improved much over the offseason and isn’t one of the 5 best teams in the country. The positive differences between this year’s Pitt game and last year’s game were that (1) McSorely didn’t commit any turnovers (the last play of the 1st half doesn’t really count), (2) special teams play was vastly improved and State consistently had better field position on possession changes, and (3) the defense allowed field goals instead of touchdowns when Pitt got in the red zone. Time will tell whether point 3 was the result of better defense on our part or Pitt’s graduation losses.
Here’s a non fun fact. Penn State’s defense allowed 90 fewer yards from scrimmage this year (342 vs 432), but Penn State’s offense generated 94 fewer yards this year than last year (312 vs 406). .The statistic that alarmed me the most was the huge disparity in the number of plays run from scrimmage. Pitt ran 86 plays to State’s 52 plays. Time of possession may not mean much in today’s game, but that kind of play disparity will wear down your defense over the course of a season.
Still, it was just the 2nd game of the season and the offense has time to get better. And they’ll have to improve if State is going to repeat as B1G champion. The team I watched last Saturday will probably lose 3 B1G games this year – even with the apparent regression of Ohio State and Michigan. Unfortunately, the bottom feeders have improved this year and, except for Rutgers, there are no guaranteed wins on the conference schedule.
The Nittany Turkey says
Franklin said that time of possession wasn’t meaningful, I believe. I disagree. The so-called quick strike offense puts the defense on the field in short order, whether the offense scores or not, and with the home run ball being a fairly low percentage play, “not” is often the case. The third down conversion rate is somewhat better than past years, but it ain’t yet up to snuff, from this turkey’s perspective. We’re tied for 96th in the FBS, with a 33% success rate. It gets tougher after Georgia State.
I am encouraged by the special teams’ work, with the exception of kickoffs sailing out of bounds. However, JoMo’s offensive game plan better have a page in it that addresses ball control (which starts with an effective offensive line), and the defense needs to improve up front.
I need to see some more, but at this point, I’ll agree with you that this is not the #5 team in the FBS.
So before this game i was complaining about being wedged out on west campus near the engineering buildings.
The group actually liked this more than being by the stadium. It was spacious, quiet, no lines to the port o johns (the engineering buildings are open weekends on daylight hours if you need a clean alternative) and everyone was really friendly. It was one of the best tailgating experiences we ever had, and I would recommend it highly. The one issue we had was that there were yellow jackets everywhere. That was solved with a cup of vodka mixed with powdered lemonade and a makeshift swatter.
Anyhoo, from up in the stands it looked like offensively franklin was overthinking things. Defensively….well, if they keep running the shovel pass and you don’t adjust, theres an issue.
The Nittany Turkey says
I spent a lot of time over there by the Hammond Building fifty-some years ago. Grilled stickies were right across the street. I don’t recall a preponderance of yellow jackets — they must have taken up residence after I left. Nasty little bastards! Anyhow, looks like you thought you were dealt lemons, but you redeemed it by making lemonade and vodka for the hymenopterids.
If Pitt had figured out in the first half that the shovel pass would turn out to be their most successful offensive play, PSU would have been in deep, deep shit. I had my concerns about the front seven. They didn’t need to confirm their validity!
Bye week this week.