Kentucky 27, Penn State 24
Yeah, well you all know the story by now. Trace McSorley played his heart out with a broken foot in a losing effort against Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. It was a fitting, albeit painful, end to his record-setting Penn State career. He could have sat out the second half but it was his choice to play.
The vaunted Penn State defense was unable to contain the Kentucky running game, as Phil Grosz promised they would. In my tacit keys to the game I mentioned holding Benny Snell, Jr. to under 100 yards, but he wound up with 144 and two touchdowns. It was enough. The Nittany Lions fell short in their effort to come back from a 27-7 lead.
Kentucky came to play. Their All-Everything Linebacker Josh Allen could have opted out in preparation for being a top five overall pick in the NFL Draft, but he played and encouraged others to play for Wildcat pride. Kentucky doesn’t get these opportunities often, playing in the SEC as they do. They wanted it! With the exception of McSorley, I didn’t detect a lot of “leave it all on the field” attitude from the Penn State team.
Wednesday Morning QBing
Wednesday morning quarterbacks universally blame Head Coach James Franklin for this ignominious defeat, but this Turkey ain’t so sure he had enough to work with to do the job. I know you all don’t like to blame the team (which St. Joe would call “kids” — as if they really can’t be held responsible before the fans). The play calling wasn’t all that atrocious, except perhaps for the fake punt, but if the special teams and the defense had performed, the outcome would have been different.
One field goal attempt missed the mark and the other was partially blocked. We had been seeing this kind of stuff from Jake Pinegar and the special teams all season, so why shouldn’t we expect it in a meaningless bowl game. Pinegar is a freshman. The whole bowl experience had to be new to him.
Those who bitch that the last field goal on fourth down with 4:12 left are doing that old fan thing — second-guessing, pissing and moaning that it would have been better another way just because it failed. With three timeouts left and lots of time on the clock, this Turkey believes it was the correct decision to take the three points (which would have been needed anyway) instead of gambling on a fourth down conversion. Kentucky had been stuffing them all day on third down (4-14). Furthermore, the PSU defense stopped the Wildcats with three-and-outs on their previous two drives.
Franklin made the right decision. The team did not execute. They couldn’t stop Snell. The defense gave up a couple of first downs, allowing Kentucky to run the clock down to nine seconds. So don’t give me crap.
McSorley valiantly played with a broken foot but his accuracy in the second half of the season was not there. Sure, he was injured. Sure, he went out there and played his ass off. But that doesn’t change what happened on the field, which can’t be overlooked just because we like the “kid”.
The 9-4 season is about right for these guys, as this Turkey fortuitously opined at season’s outset. As predicted, they couldn’t win the big ones with tOSU, Michigan, and Moo U., and they failed in this year’s subprime bowl game. They are neither an elite team nor a great team, as Franklin called them after the Ohio State loss. They are a middlin’ Big Ten team.
Big Turkey Thanks!
Nevertheless, this Turkey gives great thanks to a determined if sometimes overmatched set of “kids”, who gave us another season of thrills and chills. May they all do well in future endeavors, and may those who are returning build on the experience. And a great big Turkey thanks to Trace McSorley. A special player like that comes along very rarely. I wish him a full recovery and lots of success in the future no matter which path he chooses.
And great big Turkey thanks to all six of my readers! I’ll see you all next season or sooner, if I feel the need to blow off about something.
And a Happy New Year to All!
(And I didn’t mention my roof once until now).