Sunday, September 19, 2010

Golden Flashes Flushed

I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive about this game. Sitting in the stadium before the game, I watched the Kent State Flashes practicing. They oddly resembled Iowa, if you figure the dark blue is kind of black. That scared me. I couldn’t quite figure out the mascot/name. It looked like an eagle.  It could be a Hawkeye.  Or maybe a chicken hawk?  But what is a flash? According to Black Shoe Diaries,
Is it lightning? Is it a bird? Get your lightning bird away from me!

With Penn State coming off a physical loss to the nation’s number one ranked team, coupled with a noon start, I expected the team to be sluggish out of the gate and a low scoring first half. I was half right.

The Penn State defense notched their first turnover of the season on Kent’s first possession, as D’Anton Lynn picked off a pass from heralded QB Spencer Keith. Spencer Keith led his high school to all kinds of success and interestingly enough, his high school coach apparently NEVER punts. Not only that, but his players never punt either. They play four downs every possession. Spencer Keith sounds like a soap opera character. But I digress.

The Penn State offense did not digress and methodically moved the ball 45 yards for the score.
The defense held again and forced a punt. Rob Bolden then led the Lions on a 5 play, 70 yard drive highlighted by a 55 yard pass to Moye on the first play of the series. It looked like the rout was on and we would go all Boise State over Wyoming on this one.

But then sloppy and inconsistent play set in, the kind I expected the team to come out with. The Lions took their fourteen points into the locker room with them at the half.

We tacked on a field goal in the third quarter, added another score in the fourth, and avoided letting the Golden Flushes Flashes score a meaningless TD against the second string to preserve the shut out.
Aside from the first defensive interception of the season, Graham Zug got his first catch of the year. Colin Wagner missed his first field goal, a 43 yarder early in the fourth quarter when the game was still technically not in the bag. Well, who are we kidding—the game was never technically in doubt, even before it was played.

But there are doubts about this Penn State team, and one of the side stories of the week concerned the question, “what is wrong with Royster?” I am not going to debate this issue. The stats speak for themselves. He is not even in the top 100 rushers in the country right now. And although Alabama has a great defense, and even though Kent State was ranked number one in rush defense going into this week (they are 7th right now) it is difficult to explain what the problem is. Is it Royster, sharing time with Redd and Green, the opponents, or the offensive line? It is interesting that Royster fumbled on the first play of the second half (problem with the exchange) and saw limited time after that. Running backs were not supposed to be one of our problem areas going into this season.

I also saw/heard a lot of complaints about our defense. I was indeed discouraged about how things went against Alabama, but this was Kent State. They didn’t score. I was sure they were going to dink and dunk their way downfield against our bend but don’t break D and at least put up some points. They did not. We didn’t even give up our usual token score during garbage time.

Overall, I thought it was a very blasé performance against a blasé opponent. I think Kent State is a step above YSU and we are slowly improving. I thought Bolden was less accurate this week, but he still had a good day and made some great throws. Penn State is the ONLY school that has not allowed a sack this season. None of the major issues appear to be unfixable, but I’m not sure we can expect better than 9-3, which was/is my pre-season prediction. We are still on track.


The Drum Major stuck both flips.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

Joe Paterno notched victory #396.

Attendance was 100,610 but the stadium did not look that full, thanks to a student section that never did completely fill, and a Kent State section that was largely empty. There was a smattering of KSU fans—probably band parents. Like YSU, KSU brought their band. No complaints of urine flinging have been reported.  I guess we save that for big games!


UM edged past Umass 42-37. Wisconsin survived ASU 20-19. In keeping with close games, Illinois beat Northern Illinois 28-22. Purdue outlasted Ball State 24-13. The Hoosiers beat Western Kentucky 38-21. Northwestern ate Rice 30-13. The Pro Team in Columbus won 43-7 over Ohio.

MSU and ND squared off in the Former Cincinnati Coaches Bowl, with Dantonio coming out on top 34-31 in OT in East Lansing. The game was so exciting it gave him a heart attack. Seriously. He had a heart attack later that night. Fortunately, it sounds like he is doing fine and will recover.

On the losing end of things, Southern Cal took out the Gophers, 32-21. Iowa pulled their usual, losing to Arizona 34-27, but rest assured they will play the Big Ten season like a different team—they couldn’t beat a team like Pitt in 2008, but against the #3 ranked Lions they played like they were headed to the Super Bowl.


1. The Irish—had time expired before the fake field goal snap in OT?
2. Clemson—snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Auburn
3. Iowa—Hawkeyes blow another early season game
4. Wake Forest—beaten 68-24 by Stanford
5. Duke—beaten 62-13 by Bama. But at least they scored 13!


Temple comes to Beaver Stadium next Saturday for a game at 3:30pm ET. The Owls under Al (“Owl”) Golden are 3-0 for the first time since 1979. Their wins so far are thus:

Villanova 31-24
Central Michigan 13-10 (OT)
Connecticut 30-16

When I got the Citizen’s Bank button for the Kent State game, I thought there was a mistake. The slogan “No Golden Moment” I assumed referred to Coach Golden. But alas, it was the correct button for the not-so Golden Flashes. But, I think you could reuse the button this week anyway.

Penn State is the only team on their schedule currently ranked. Some people are concerned about this game. Pre-season, a Harrisburg sportswriter picked Temple to beat Penn State. We could be looking ahead to the Big Ten road opener against the Hawkeyes, and we have not played very well to date.

But is an upset possible? Of course it’s possible. And maybe one day Lindsay Lohan will test negative for drugs. It’s just not likely. I think you have to go back to 2003 to find a game where Temple scored a touchdown against PSU. (They did not play in 2004-5.) In the last four games, the Owls have been outscored 154-9. And while this year’s team is probably not as good as last year’s or even 2008’s, it is probably as capable as the 2006-7 units under Morelli. Of course, this year’s Temple unit is probably better than those teams that were shut out in 2006-7.

That said, I think this PSU team is still feeling its way, not like a blind man in a strange city, but maybe like someone in the dark in a familiar room. They know where everything is—the pieces are all there—you just have to put them together without cracking your shin on the coffee table or knocking over a lamp. But with a daunting game at Iowa looming, I think the game plan will be kept fairly vanilla and the game may be closer than it has been recently.

But an upset? I think not.


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