Maryland 35, Penn State 19
It sucked. This is a discombobulated bunch of guys running around doing a poor emulation of a football team. Sanguinarians, please go away and come back in a few years when Penn State might try to put a reasonable semblance of a football team on the field. Others, read on, but WARNING: I have nothing good to say.
I hate to write this. My late mama used to tell me, “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it!” Of course, she was one whose top rating of anything was “not too bad”. That rating is far too good for this game. In a word, it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
Before the game we wondered how Penn State could be a 27-point favorite. Well, gamblers must have their heads up their asses, too. My pre-game prediction of 55-13 reflected that same deranged euphoria. It is sure dark and smelly in here. However, kudos to those of you who saw the overlay and jumped on it. Maryland + 27 wouldn’t have worked last year, but back then, Penn State had a team that cared about winning. This year — well, this year, I can see Penn State getting points for the rest of the year.
Covid-19 is no longer an excuse. Maryland was up for this game. Penn State was not. Some reports point to a lack of “urgency” — hell, I’ll point to a complete lack of presence. Most of those apathetic pretenders didn’t want to be there. Poor attitudes result in failures. We saw plenty of both.
The Penn State running game sputtered against an arguably crappy Maryland defense, one that had allowed 281 rushing yards and 44 points in its previous game, with Minnesota. We watched Maryland repeatedly manhandle the vaunted Penn State offensive line, a unit that was purported to have its act together this year.
James Franklin concluded that establishing the run is key to a robust offense. This could be fundamentally true, but if all aspects of your game suck, it doesn’t matter much. Typically, you have to care to win.
Can’t Run, Can’t Pass
The passing game sucked, too. With an atrocious quarterback rating of 29.5, Sean Clifford is a parody of a Big Ten starting quarterback. The complete line is 27-57 for 340 yards, three touchdowns, and two ugly interceptions. Many of Clifford’s throws were off target, some sailing high over receivers’ heads, even little swing passes. The offensive line’s ineptitude didn’t help, as the pocket repeatedly collapsed. They gave up seven sacks to the supposedly crappy Maryland pass rush.
Defense was a mess, putting Penn State in a 21-0 hole before you could say “Nittany Lions suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!”. They gave up 405 yards and made Tua’s younger brother look like Johnny Unitas, with a 96.5 quarterback rating. Maryland efficiently converted nine of sixteen third downs against our porous, soft tackling bunch.
Penn State would have lost miserably even if it hadn’t been for three turnovers, all of which were on Clifford. Take heart, though. Absent the turnovers, they still would have lost.
Tell Me Something Good
What can I say that is positive? Well, Penn State won the second half, 12-7. Of course, by then with a 35-7 lead, Maryland was into clock-running, victory salting mode.
The picture I’ll remember from the TV coverage was Franklin standing on the sideline alone shaking his head. That summed it up — and that was during the first half.
So, given our first 0-3 start since 2004 (which was at the depths of (cue cello) The Dark Years), where do we go from here? The Sanguinarians will have their excuses, exonerating the players while calling for Franklin’s departure. In their mind, players can never do wrong because we have a talent advantage over… over… over… hmmm… over the Green Bay Packers! Yeah, that’s it! You hear the term “raw talent” bandied about, and that might be what it is — raw talent with heads up asses, guys who would rather be waking up with a hangover and banging their girlfriends (or boyfriends — who knows?) on Saturdays.
The apathy of this team is palpable, so I had to say something about it. Nevertheless, I regret that I’ve driven off some readers by stating what is on my mind. I’m certainly no football coaching or personal motivation expert, but I can glean an apathetic lack of effort in all aspects of this team. The 0-3 start is not a fluke. Losing to Nebraska next week would end all doubt.
Joe Paterno, of sainted memory, famously counseled his players, “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.” Problem is, when you don’t give half a shit, you’re not thinking about anything but getting off the field and doing something else. Crappy play plus apathy equals YOU’RE WORSE THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE WHEN YOU LOSE!
I’ll be back during the week with some cynical jibes about the Nebraska game.