Penn State 38, West Virginia 15
Before a full house at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver Field, the Penn State Nittany Lions easily handled the Mountaineers of West Virginia 38-15 after a slow start. The game highlighted both some strong points and some weak points for both teams. Announced attendance was 110,747, a strong showing by the football starved Nittany Nation.
Drew Allar FTW
First, it appears as if the quarterback situation is settled at Penn State. Drew Allar came out showing a variety of skills and tools, winding up 21-29 for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He was almost intercepted twice, but “almost don’t count ‘cept in horseshoes” or some such thing. His performance behind an offensive line that is still not what most of us hoped and with a collection of serviceable, but not standout, receivers was impressive.
Two Left Feet
On the other hand, the kicking game suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. My first observation is a kickoff guy/punter Gabriel Nwosu, who has the most ridiculous hair on the team and who must be a converted lineman, tipping the scales at 274 and standing 6’6″. Since he must play safety after kicking the ball, he could be delivering some interesting hits to those foolish enough to get by the rest of the tacklers. However, the punting job went to Australian Riley Thompson, who averaged a crappy 37.5. Then, there’s the place-kicking situation. Sander Sahaydak missed two easy field goals and was replaced by Senior Columbia transfer Alex Felkins in the second half. Felkins then made a 25-yard field goal, and he was 3-3 on PATs. Special teams need work, and yes, that is an understatement.
The running game was sound against a porous WVU defense. We hope to see lots more from Nick Singleton (13-70 with one TD) and Kaytron Allen (10-51) this season. I hope they both stay healthy, because we’ll sure as hell need them. The always suspect offensive line was even seen opening some holes, a hopeful sign. (Don’t get too excited, because West Vagina’s defense blows).
The undersized Penn State defensive line showed up as another weakness, as West Virginia knew it could be exploited by runs up the gut. WVU equaled PSU’s rushing total of 146 yards, with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Leading rusher CJ Donaldson had 18 carries for 71 yards with an average of 4.5 ypc. The West Virginia offensive line, led by junior center Zach Frazier, routinely pushed our defenders out of their way. However, Manny Diaz’s swarming pressure defense kept the Mountaineers in check most of the night. Whether they can do that going forward with the Big Ten schedule when all the OCs are aware of the schemata, in the words of the noncommittal parent, “We’ll see.”
Backing Up Allar
It was good to see Beau Pribula getting some meaningful reps as Allar’s backup. His touchdown run in the closing seconds resulted in Penn State beating the spread, which I didn’t think would happen. I was telling Artificially Sweetened that St. Joe would have taken a few knees in that situation with no doubt as to the outcome. But that was then, and this is now. James Franklin has no such compunction about running up the score, and in this shitty era of so-called college football, the gamblers demand that teams don’t lay down. So, non-sportsmanlike conduct is accepted behavior in the pecuniary climate of the Big Ten in 2023.
If West Virginia’s receivers could catch, the game would have been much closer. Those of you who saw this game with blinders on and are now anticipating a 12-0 season are completely full of shit. Missing field goals alone will lose one Big Ten game, and if WVU’s offensive line can push our defense around, others will capitalize on that weakness. However, I am encouraged by what I saw from Drew Allar. If he can maintain the “mental toughness” (sportswriter bullshit terminology) through the grinding, withering season, coupled with his excellent skills (wow, what a wrist!), he will carry the team on his shoulders and pull out a win that shouldn’t have been.
Now, it’s on to face the Mighty Blue Hens!
(Your favorite Turkey, except for the one at Thanksgiving, will be on the road for the next couple of weeks. Thus, his pen will be temporarily silenced. A visit to the homeland is anticipated — definitely, northeastern PA and possibly, the old homeland of PGH. See you in a couple of weeks. Beat the Chickens and the Native Americans!)