Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tide Ruins White Out

I will be the first to admit it.  I really thought we had a chance to win the game Saturday.  Call me a Kool Aid Drinker, a Happy Jack, an optimist, or an idiot (just don't call me late for dinner!) but I honestly had a feeling that we would win this game. 

Good Feeling Gone.

And by extrapolation, if this was our game to win, then this would be our season.  The one we have been waiting for since 1986.  (1994 was one of the best season's I ever experienced as a PSU football fan, but the sportswriters had to go and ruin it by picking Nebraska.)  This season wouldn't be ruined by sportwriters.  This season wouldn't be ruined by a trip to Ann Arbor in 2005.  Or a last second field goal by Iowa in 2008.

No.  This was going to be our year.  This was going to be the coming out game.

But a day later, we're still in the closet.  We're not a dark horse, but a dead horse.

And no, the sky is not falling.  Penn State still has a chance for a good season.  Maybe even a great season, as this loss is out of conference.  But not THE SEASON.  And let's face it, if we can't figure out how to score some points, it is NOT going to be a good season, and it will never be a GREAT season.

Granted, there is no shame in losing to the #2 (or 3) ranked team in the country.  No one outside of Nittany Nation--and few of those inside--really expected us to win.  I am not ashamed that we lost.  I think the team played their best.  Unfortunately, that is just not very good right now.

I am frustrated at how we lost.

I am baffled that we blew all three timeouts in the first five minutes of the game--we didn't even have a time-out left to challenge the spot of the ball after the fake punt by Bama.  That's one point per time-out.  Not good.

I am dismayed that outside of a garbage touchdown in the last couple minutes of the game, we were outscored 27-3.  We lost a year ago 24-3.  I think we have stepped backward, although the experts could argue that Bama is better this year.  Let's revisit that one at the end of the season and see where this Crimson Tide team ends up.  I don't think they will end up in the title game based on what I saw on Saturday.

I was disappointed in the white out.  There were more visiting fans in our House than I can ever remember, but perhaps they just stood out because of the red on white.  Say what you will about the STEP program, but it will destroy the greatest fan base in college football.  There are no longer whole sections of fans who are there because they want to see the game.  Instead, we have fans who paid enough money to get seats, and are willing to make a buck selling them to anyone--even the other team--to recoup their losses.  I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that.  They are not fans.  They are financiers.  Ticket scalpers.  Opportunists.  Traitors.

There is no amount of alcohol analysis that can rationalize this loss.  We were simply not the better team.  The fiasco with the timeouts and McQueary screaming on the sideline are just symptoms of a much deeper disease.  It's always there.  Sometimes it flares up, like a painful hemorrhoid, and you bleed all over the toilet paper--just like Tide fans sticking out like droplets of blood in our stadium.

We needed to protect the ball.  We did not do that.  In fact, we are very fortunate there weren't more turn-overs.  Two INTs were over-turned on further review.  The fumble by our tight end (I don't know how to spell his name and I really don't feel like looking it up) not only killed a promising drive, but gave Bama a short field which they capitalized on.  That was potentially a fourteen point turn around, if we had been able to score.  Oh, who am I kidding.  But it was a 7 point change regardless.

We needed to rattle their inexperienced quarterback.  We did not do that.  In fact, our quarterbacks looked more rattled.  The best PSU quarterback in the stadium yesterday was Todd Blackledge--even at his current age, but he lacks the eligibility.  I really wonder if this platoon system isn't a cancer that will kill this season if allowed to fester unchecked.  Are they trying too hard to outdo the other?  Neither one is in there long enough to get with the flow of the game.  Both look worse than they did a year ago, if that is even possible.

We needed to make some plays.  We did not do that.  I can't bring myself to watch the replay of the game, but my friend and I commented the entire game about how every pass was to the sideline, except for the one to the tight end that was fumbled (but he was open and caught it and would have had a first down!) and maybe one other pass.

The Bama defenders were ALWAYS in position to defend that pass--hence the picks and near picks.  How can you compete at that level and not use the entire field?  If the opposing defense plays well and takes something away from you, so be it.  But if you take it away yourself, you are only helping the other team.

I think that's why Paterno got hit in practice.  He was in the middle of the field and NEVER expected a reciever to be there.

Alabama's defense played as if every pass was going to the sideline.


On the upside, we did not give up a sack.

On the downside--we did not get to their quarterback either.

Our defense played a game that was good enough to beat most of the teams we will face until November.

Our offense played poorly enough to lose a few of those.

At least I don't have to bother posting a poll this week.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports.com:

Key statistics are the turn-overs.  Even without them, we still would not have won this game, but we might have come closer to the point spread of 10.

Time of possession hurt us--the defense was on the field a lot in relatively hot weather.  Even the rain forsook us (assuming that inclement weather favors the underdog.)

We gave up too many yards, but neither offense had a good conversion ratio.
video

INTANGIBLES:

Penn State won the toss and elected to receive.

The Drum Major stuck both his flips.  The pre-game cheers seemed a bit out of sync.  Maybe that was a bad omen.

Attendance was 107,846.  Too.  Much.  Red.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

It was a tough week for some Big Ten Teams.

The Contenders:

Wisconsin rolled Oregon State 35-0.  (Oregon State lost to Sacramento last week!)
THEM survived a wild one in the Big House against the Irish, 35-31.  I feel your pain ND as that last 30-second drive for a TD brought back nightmares of 2005.
Sparty crushed Florida Atlantic 44-0.
Illinois pasted South Dakota State 56-3.
Nebraska pulled away from a pesky Fresno State team, 42-29.
The Buckeyes outlasted Toledo 27-22.

The Pretenders:

Virginia beat the Hoosiers 34-31.
Iowa lost to Iowa State 44-41 in 3 OTs.  Neither team wanted that trophy!
New Mexico State beat Minnesota 28-21.
Purdue got Riced, 24-22.
Yup.  Penn State is listed down here, losing 27-11 to the Tide.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  The Irish.  The Big House is an evil place.
2.  Mizzou - lost to Arizona State 37-30.
3.  Miss State - Au-burned 41-31.
4.  Georgia - starting out 0-2.  How bad is that on the Mark Richt-er scale?

LOOKING AHEAD:

Temple.  Away.  Whatever.

2 comments:

Carolyn Todd said...

I took lots of white out photos only to discover that the stands were pink. And they got redder towards the end of the game.

Yesterday's game was an indication of how many so-called fans buy tickets simply to scalp them. But then, can we blame them? They have to cover the costs of their donation one way or another.

Penn State might want to think twice about future "white houses" and perhaps go with a blue house instead.

84Lion said...

Dear Doc,

It's been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Like you, I was tempted to buy in to PSU engineering some David vs. Goliath thing and upset Alabama. By later in the week though I had taken a much saner look and decided that with PSU coming off a bowl loss to a middling SEC team, and Alabama coming off a bowl rout of a Big Ten co-champion team, and both teams having pretty much the same personnel as last year, any hope was mighty small. Moreover, PSU and Alabama beat their opening patsies by about the same margin, although PSU was playing a bottom feeder FCS school and Alabama was playing a MAC (Not BCS but FBS at least) team. I had memories of the 2009 OSU-PSU game and as it turned out that's pretty much the scenario that played out.
Of course in the aftermath of the destruction one looks for any and all comfort and of course the season is young, etc. It did help that Iowa got beaten by Iowa State and OSU got taken to the ropes by Toledo before pulling out a win. Based on that, I said to myself, PSU should be able to win their next 3, then if they can beat Iowa...well, Purdue looks like a basket case and Northwestern is, well, Northwestern. If that scenario plays out, 7-1 and a guaranteed bowl berth by mid-October looks pretty good. Even Nebraska looked human against Fresno. At this point 9-3 overall would look rather good, and with some luck it might be possible to envision 10-1 going into the Wisconsin game. If Nebraska and MSU could upset Wisconsin it might mean a trip for PSU to the inaugural B1G CCG regardless what PSU does against the Badgers.
In all honesty though what I saw on Saturday (what I could bear to watch of the mess) doesn't inspire any confidence in that scenario. Even if PSU is able to handle Iowa, Illinois appears somewhat resurgent, and Nebraska, OSU, and Wisconsin are still solid teams no matter how you look at it.
Worst "good" case I see is 6-6, best good case I see is 9-3. I'm thinking 7-5 is probably realistic based on last year.
Honestly what's worse than final scores and final records not meeting expectations and overall expectations being lowered is seeing what PSU football has become. Yup, nothing like looking especially uncrisp and inefficient on your opening drive by burning all three timeouts because of a Chinese fire drill play-calling process. Nothing like having a "white-out" game shown in glorious high-definition on national TV and seeing...what's that...a pink-colored crowd? WTF with that? Nothing like seeing the old coach waving his cane around at the night-before pep rally, standing there with mouth hanging open and not sure whether he's going to cry, drool, or keel over. Even if all that were magically made good, the sight of PSU basically getting throttled all over the field (uncompetitive) is tough to take. PSU simply is no longer a program capable of pulling upsets by beating highly-ranked teams. Seems like any team ranked in the top 15 is one PSU gets rolled by.
In the aftermath I lamented to my wife that what I'd like to see at PSU is a coach that gets the job done, even if it means breaking the rules a la Jim Tressel or SEC (Where are our "boosters" with those untraceable cash payments?). Basically the kind of coach that gets the job done and puts PSU in CCG and MNCG contention, consistent top ten recruiting classes and use that talent properly, etc. Would be nice to see that happen and continue the Paterno "grand experiment" plus play by the rules but in today's world that seems unrealistic to the point of being impossible. Here is a great link; I could not have said it better myself. http://bwi.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=36&tid=147270592&mid=147270592&sid=890&style=2