Lions Nearly Snockered by Hillbillies
We had ’em all the way! Yeah, right. The Nittany Lions (1-0) got out of this one by the skin of their teeth, needing an overtime period and a fortuitous interception by Amani Oruwariye to overcome the Appalachian State Moonshiners 45-38.
Poor Showing by PSU Defense and Special Teams
Giving up 38 points in regulation? Giving up 451 total yards? Giving up a 100-yard kickoff return? Squandering a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter? OMG OMG WTF? Is this a Penn State defense? Rebuilding or reloading? How about reviling?
Young Zac Thomas, App State’s sophomore QB starting his first game looked like Dan Marino out there thanks to our defense, completing 25 of 38 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He ran 15 times for another 43 yards and a touchdown. The crucial interception doesn’t much blemish a fine performance by Thomas, who wound up with an adjusted quarterback rating of 137.6.
Meanwhile, senior running back Jalin Moore chugged out 88 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown, and added five receptions out of the backfield for 36 more yards.
The telling stat is that many of the PSU tackles were made by the defensive secondary. Oruwariye was the star with seven solo tackles and that crucial interception.
Most of the front seven were somewhere else mentally.
They Needed McSorley to Shine, and He Came Through
When all hope seemed to be lost in the fourth quarter, an excellent, 52-yard kickoff return by K.J. Hamler set up a make-or-break drive. Senior QB Trace McSorley completed five of six passes for for 47 yards under intense pressure by the opportunistic App State defense. At the end of regulation, the score was tied 38-38. Without McSorley, who came through in the clutch after a semi-competent game, the Nittany Lions would have gone down in a shameful 38-31 defeat.
Rays of Hope
Hamler was impressive. Aside from the kickoff return I mentioned above (more on that later), a 46-yard fingertip catch with maximal body extension tells me this kid has some excellent potential for thrilling us in the future. (I never figured out what a “circus catch” was, because when you hire clowns, that’s what you get — a circus. But I digress.)
The kickoff return was reminiscent of some of Devin Hester’s finest work. Standing a couple yards deep in the end zone, Hamler gave all appearances of wanting to casually take a knee when he bolted out of the zone for what turned out to be a 52-yarder. Yeah, I want this kid returning more kicks.
Another ray of hope for the special teams I maligned earlier is freshman place kicker Jake Pinegar (rhymes with vinegar). He successfully completed six PATs and one 32-yard field goal.
Miles Sanders appears to be the chairman of the running back committee, and he had a decent day, with 19 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns, and three catches out of the backfield for 20 yards. Freshman Ricky Slade looks promising, carrying six times for 39 yards and a touchdown.
K. John Called It
Although he got the score wrong, the scenario was correct, so hats off to the most prescient of my six readers!
Now We Have to Worry about Pitt
Will these guys be ready for Pitt? Before the season started, nobody worried about the Pitt game. Of course, before the season started, nobody worried about Appalachian State, either. I’ll be back mid-week with a look at our old under the arm opponents.