I’m a bit late in getting to this Spring Game post because I had to sober up first. The off-season viewing party at the Cave caught me at a time when I was not properly warmed up for consuming mass quantities.
I hear that some hilarious things happened here in the game’s aftermath. I participated in some (apparently) but I didn’t remember anything this morning. Among them:
- Everyone went outside to check out Jackstand’s new Charger SRT8. I know this happened because pictorial evidence was posted on Facebook.
- I cooked some steaks for the four of us. Artificially Sweetened apprised me that these were the rarest steaks she ever had.
- I went to sit down but I missed my favorite chair. This was the largest recliner LaZboy made at the time I bought it. It was called the Mark McGwire model (and no, it does not dispense performance enhancing drugs as one reclines). It’s white leather and it is huge, thus really hard to miss. I ended up in a pile on the floor. I don’t remember.
- Apparently, I made a lot of smoke in the house with the Jenn-Air grill, because Artificially Sweetened asked me this afternoon if I remembered the smoke alarm upstairs issuing its cacophonous alert sound. I didn’t, but it apparently caused enough of a commotion to have awakened the dead, if not the stuporous.
- Zbeard felt that he had to go out to procure more wine and, as it turned out, some anchovies. When he tried to get back in through the gate, the guard wouldn’t let him in. When he tried to call me, I was obviously not answering. Eventually, I guess the guard let him in.
Meanwhile, rewind to earlier Saturday, about noon-thirty, when I wanted to check to see if I could get the game on my largest screen, the one in the Cave. I had tried accessing BTN2go previously, as I outlined in an earlier post, so I felt that all systems were go for launch. Little did I know that Google TV wouldn’t cooperate. I had logged into BTN2go five minutes earlier on one of my desktop computers upstairs, but Google TV was a no-go. It kept hanging during the loging-in process, staying forever at an “Authorizing…” screen. So I began to prepare to bring the big, bulky workhorse computer downstairs when I had a second thought.
I had fixed up my “junk room” with a fairly decent Lenovo desktop computer and a “monitor” made from an old, repurposed 27″ HDTV. The room was essentially for the benefit of AS’s kids who have dubbed the computing equipment in there “the giant computer.” Well, hell, instead of lugging something down the stairs, and setting it up downstairs, I could create a more intimate viewing situation in the junk room via the giant computer. Yes, I was able to log into BTN2go from there, so all was ready to rock and roll.
Of course, this being a day when not much happened the way things were supposed to happen made it conducive to overindulging in the vino. So, now you know.
Oh yeah, the game. (Don’t rush me — I’m rambling!) I don’t have much to say about it — I was actually pretty lucid during it — because I didn’t really notice much worthy of commenting on. I think that the primary accomplishment was a successful “coming out party” for Bill O’Brien. The game demonstrated that we could put the past behind us and look forward to the O’Brien Era, for better or worse, be it long or short in duration. We won’t forget the late, lamented Joe Paterno, but his entire era now exists in another dimension.
The Blue defense team played defense the entire game, and they beat the White offensive team by the basketball looking score of 77-65. It should have been obvious to anyone who could comprehend the rather arcane scoring algorithm that the defense was the better team on the field, and the point totals were just.
In a game where each interception is a pick-six for the defense (they got six points for any interception), the pick is the biggest scoring play. So, when three mediocre quarterbacks with a broad range of talents but not all in a single package face a pretty decent defense, there will likely be lots of defensive scoring opportunities. Sacks also amassed points for the defense. Five interceptions and eight sacks made it a happy day for the defense.
The quarterback competition, which O’Brien indicated would continue until just before the season begins, might have taken a direction away from the Bolden camp with his poor performance. He was the starter, which indicates to me that O’Brien is trying to bolster his confidence and give him chances to succeed. Unfortunately, Bolden blew it. Three interceptions and two sacks in his share of the playing time, speaks for itself. His completions amounted to only 78 yards.
His main competitors for the starting job are Matt McGloin and Paul “I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones. Their performances were nothing to write home about, either. McGloin, who has the inside track, disappointed with 6-13 for just 105 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. Jones, who has a howitzer of an arm, displayed it; however, accuracy is a big issue here. Jones was 6-15 for 113 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. McGloin and Jones each were sacked twice.
Shane McGregor, who has no chance of becoming the starting quarterback, actually had the best numbers of the quarterbacks in the game. He was 4-4 for 47 yards. McGregor is a senior walk-on.
Bolden, as you’ll recall, wanted out this past year, but Joe Paterno wouldn’t let him go. I can see Bolden overacting an impression Al Pacino’s line from Godfather III, “I wanted to get out, but they kept pulling me back in!” Paterno said, “Stick around, kid, and you’ll get a fair shot at it.” Well, I’m thinking that Bolden might have been better off elsewhere, because it just doesn’t seem like he’s going to make it at Penn State. He still seems to lack command of the field and pocket presence. Things do not appear instinctive with him. He looks as uncomfortable as he’s always looked.
As for the great new offense we all wanted to see, O’Brien didn’t show it to us (or to the other Big Ten coaches). He said that maybe 10% of it was sprinkled into the play mix. One good sign to me was the use of the tight ends. You know that the O’Brien playbook will be replete with tight end routes. (Of course, if he can develop talent at that position that is even 80% as good as what he had at New England, he’ll tear up the Big Ten.) Even more obvious was the observation that players weren’t standing around waiting for plays to be called down from the booth to the field and signaled in to the quarterback. Good riddance to that chronic suckage!
On defense, the most notable thing was the significant absence of the hated Sandusky Zone and the Sandusky BBDB. It is not that I’m kicking a guy when he’s down, as I have always credited Jerry Sandusky for Penn State’s innovative 1980s pass defense. In Sandusky’s case, if the crimes he is accused of committing occurred, what the hell — kicking him when he’s down feels pretty damn good, but I digress. It appears that the soft zone is on its way out. Seeing corner backs line up at the LOS made me even more cross-eyed than the wine. This is not something I have ever seen a Penn State defense do, other than in a goal line configuration. Of course, the talent needs to be there, while defensive backs must be taught to play in the 21st Century. But if that happens, think of the pleasure of watching a game in which the opponent isn’t hitting the seams in the zone all day long. As the English gentleman in the old Schweppes commercial used to say, “Curiously refreshing!”
One last note. Ki-Jana Carter made his broadcasting debut doing sideline interviews at the Blue-White game. I think the poor guy will take some deserved lumps for his ineptitude, but it still was good to see Ki-Jana again. Hell, it is always good to see any of the heroes from that 1994 team, which had one of the best offenses ever to play in the NCAA and one of the last decent offenses for a Nittany Lions team. Anyhow, Ki-Jana must have wanted to kick himself immediately after introducing Brian Urlacher as “one of the best three or two linebackers in the NFL.” That was just one faux pas of many. Somehow, I don’t think any sideline blondes are deeply concerned about losing their job to Ki-Jana, but if they were to possess his talent of being able to change directions in mid-air, I want to sign them up for my private team.
Let me ask you readers what you took away from this year’s Blue-White game. What did you think about O’Brien’s debut? Do you agree that Bolden blew an opportunity? Did you notice anything about the new playbook — both offensive and defensive — that escaped my inebriated attention? Discuss!