Friday, September 30, 2011

PSU QB Battle


PSU QB Battle from psucommedia on Vimeo.

Statistically Speaking: Hoosier Edition

Last week, we saw how close in stats Penn State was to EMU, an obviously over-matched opponent on the field.  This week, the disparity in stats is even greater . . . the Hoosiers are statistically worse than EMU.

From the NCAA stats site:



NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.Indiana
Rushing7571
Passing Offense7636
Total Offense8958
Scoring Offense8171
Rushing Defense3095
Turnovers Gained1829
Passes Had Intercepted5430
Pass Defense737
Net Punting7674
Punt Returns6566
Kickoff Returns65119
Turnover Margin3333
Fumbles Recovered2815
Passes Intercepted2158
Fumbles Lost7777
Turnovers Lost7353
Passing Efficiency10060
Pass Efficiency Defense785
Total Defense878
Scoring Defense1073
Fewest Penalties Per Game34116
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game25104
Punt Return Yardage Defense8517
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense6028
Offense Third-down Efficiency8521
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency1057
Defense Third-down Efficiency3892
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency9494
Tackles for Loss27104
Offense Tackles for Loss5110
Pass Sacks66117
Pass Sacks Allowed25105
Time of Possession7973
First Downs8244
First Downs Allowed1075
Red Zone Efficiency7784
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11471
Average NCAA Rank:51.5968.38
Weighted Avg. Rank:49.3364.25

For comparison, EMU had an average NCAA ranking of  57.89 compared to the Hoosiers 68.38.  Here are some other numbers to put that in perspective:

Wisconsin 28.72 (1st nationally)
Temple 33.00 (3rd nationally)
LSU 33.24 (5th)
Alabama 37.83 ( 11th)
Penn State  51.59 (41st)
Pittsburgh 66.37 (88th*)
Indiana 68.38 (95th)
New Mexico 89.37 (119th**)

(* Does not include the stats from their win over USF Thursday night.)
(**There are now 120 teams ranked in this division--FBS--but my computer program was written before Western Kentucky was added, so there are only 119 teams represented.  I've been too lazy to update it since, well, it's only Western Kentucky.)

A couple of individual stats really stick out is how poorly the Hoosiers are in kick-off returns, and how penalized they are as a team.

Offensively, they have done better than Penn State, but keep in mind we have faced Alabama and Temple which are statistically good teams, while the Hoosiers have faced Ball State (30th), Virginia (48th) and North Texas (109th) while Penn State has faced Temple (3rd), Alabama (11th) and Eastern Michigan (77th).  Their average opponent was ranked 62.33 while our opponents averaged 30.33 nationally.

And while they may have marginally better offensive stats against weaker opponents, our defensive stats are considerably better than theirs against arguably better opponents.

Of course, we didn't really need stats to tell us our defense is pretty good and our offense sucks.  You only have to watch the games to see that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

For Whom Do We Root

The Weekly game guide returns, with the Big Ten conference opening edition.

It's Thursday night, so you know what that means.  Where's your panther?  The Big Least squares off the hapless pittiots against the 4-0 and 16th ranked Bulls of South Florida.  The Bulls are 2.5 point favorites on the road.  GO BULLS!

In real football action this weekend . . .

Penn State is a 16 point favorite over the Hoosiers.  GO STATE!  BEAT HOSERS!

The Illini are 8 point favorites over Northwestern.  We have to play them both.  Who cares?  Actually, I like Pat Fitzgerald.  GO WILDCATS!

Minnesota travels to Ann Arbor as a 19.5 point dog.  Don't think too hard about this one.  GO GO GOPHERS!

The Irish are favored by 12 over the Boilermakers.  GO PURDUE!

The Cheateyes are favored by 3 over the Spartans.  Even though we don't play MSU, I have to root against the Cheaters on this one.  GO SPARTY!

And in the marquee game for the Big Ten, Nebraska is a 9.5 point dog to the Badgers in Madison.  Penn State must play both of these opponents, so there's no advantage strength of schedule-wise to root for either one.  But in my little mind, in that tiny room where unicorns roam and pigs fly, I can imagine a world where we beat Nebraska at home.  There is no corner of my mind where Wisconsin loses to us, so it would be better for us in the Big Ten race if Nebraska beats the Badgers.  Besides, when PSU entered the Big Ten, no one rooted for us.  Dammit, this is just a nice thing to do for our new brethren.  GO HUSKERS!

Iowa doesn't play this week so they can be ready for us.  Bitches.  Did I just type that out loud?  Oops.  That wasn't very nice.  Well, it is !*w@ after all.


Separated at birth, or "we have a W" on our helmet wannabe?

In games featuring past opponents:

Bama is a 3.5 point favorite over the Gators in the swamp.  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Temple hosts Toledo ( a 7.5 point dog).  GO OWLS!

The 3-1 Indiana State Sycamores take on South Dakota State.  GO TREES!

Eastern Michigan is an 8.5 point favorite over the Akron Zips.  GO EMU!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I-problems

The Hoosiers are 1-3 and their defensive coordinator is pissed.  And embarrassed, according to this News-Sentinel article by Pete DiPrimio.
Oh, yes. Defensive co-coordinator Mike Ekeler is ticked.

“There is no depth chart at this point,” he said. “We're not gonna watch that. That's not gonna be representative of who we are. We're gonna fix it. That's why we were brought here. That's not the standard we're gonna set.”

The Hoosiers are 1-3 and enter Saturday's Big Ten opener against Penn State (3-1) with zero momentum. They got manhandled by a previously winless North Texas team Saturday three weeks after being manhandled by Ball State and a week after setting a school record for most penalties.

“We had 28 loafs (not hustling plays) and I think it was 18 missed tackles,” Ekeler said about the 24-21 loss to North Texas. “That was an embarrassment.

“We didn't come to play. That's on me. I take it very personal. I'm embarrassed that that tape is out there on how we looked on defense. We had guys playing like they were scared. Scared to put their face on somebody.”
To add insult to injury . . .

Former Homestead standout Kevin Bush is no longer on the football team. Coach Kevin Wilson said after Saturday's North Texas game that the junior defensive end had “lost his spark about playing.”

But hey!  They're going to celebrate the 1991 Copper Bowl team, so at least they've got that going for them.
Are you embarrassed?  Me?  No.  Wait!  Is it basketball season yet?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Go Figure

The latest AP and USA Today Polls are out:



I'm not sure I've ever been able to figure these out.  For instance, F$U is the only two loss team.  Granted those losses were to Oklahoma and Clemson, but would Penn State be ranked with two losses to those same teams?  How many teams would still be ranked with two losses?  Apparently, there are none.

And then there's Texas A & M and Oklahoma State, who were eighth (TAM) and sixth or seventh (Okie State) depending on the poll.  Okie State won by one point.  How many points do you expect a 7th ranked team to beat an 8th ranked team?  Seriously.  Why did either of these teams move when the result is pretty much how you expected it to be?  The aggies couldn't have made this game any closer without winning it.  Yet, they drop in the polls.

Here are my computer rankings based on each teams win/loss record, strength of schedule and actual NCAA average rankings:



TASCOMPUTER RANKS
1Alabama92.9140
2Oklahoma88.5530
3Wisconsin88.0940
4Stanford87.8230
5Boise St.85.6230
6South Fla.85.5840
7LSU85.5340
8Virginia Tech84.6540
9Florida84.4740
10Georgia Tech84.3740
11Michigan82.7540
12Baylor82.2830
13Texas81.7730
14Oklahoma St.81.440
15Illinois81.440
16Texas Tech81.3130
17Clemson80.7940
18Nebraska80.540
19Kansas St.79.3730
20Houston78.9340
21South Carolina76.4940
22Iowa St.74.5930
23Air Force71.4721
24Arkansas69.131
25Temple69.0431

Laugh if you will at Temple coming in at #25, but the Owls are ranked THIRD in the nation in overall NCAA statistics (all categories) and 8th if you weight critical categories like total defense and total offense heavier than catgeories like fewest penalties or most fumbles.  Their loss to Penn State drops them from 3rd to 25th.  For what it's worth, Penn State is statistically 41st in the country out of 120 teams, and 40th in the TAS Computer rankings.

Emu-lator

He'll Be Back!
Penn State took care of the Eastern Michigan Eagles 34-6 before an alleged crowd of 95,636.  But the victory did not come without a price.  Linebacker Michael Mauti left the game with an ACL and is out for the rest of the season.  D'Anton Lynn suffered a neck stinger which looked serious at the time, but he was released from Mount Nittany Medical Center after x-rays cleared him of any significant neck injury.  We don't know when he will be able to play again.

Penn State found some passing offense and threw its first touchdown pass of the year, followed by three others.  Special teams are better with Fera in the lineup, but Ficken kicked a 43 yard field goal in the second half and a couple of knuckle ball kick-offs as well.

Just like the Indiana State game, the stats from this game don't mean a whole lot.  In fact, the best stat of the day may have been Temple's 38-7 wood shed beating of the Terps.  Using the transitive property of football, PSU > Temple > Maryland > Miami (FL) > Ohio State.  Hey, it works for me.

Like most noon starts, the Nittany Lions took a while to get things rolling.  On their second possession of the game, they mounted a decent drive highlighted by passes from Bolden to Drake and Brown but the drive bogged down after an illegal procedure call inside the ten.  The crowd held its breath as we attempted a field goal.  Seriously, you could almost feel the air being sucked from the stadium into our collective lungs as we expected the worst from our special teams.  But Fera nailed the kick.  Hopefully, he didn't celebrate with a Miller Light.

Penn State would nurse a 3-0 lead into the second quarter before the gunslinger, Matt McGloin threw two touchdown passes to give the Lions a comfortable 17-0 lead going into the half.  Zordich fumbled another opportunity through the end zone which gave EMU a touchback and stopped the second half bleeding for the green and white birds.

With THEM beating EMU 31-3, our win puts us on par with the wolverines (here we use the substitutive property of football) which isn't saying a whole lot.  McGloin definitely scored more points and his stats looked better than Bolden, but neither quarterback alone has established himself as a starter/leader and that is not good entering Big Ten play.

When Bolden is in the game, the play calling seems more conservative.  He doesn't get the opportunity to throw the type of passes McGloin does.  Is that play calling, or is McGloin checking down and finding the open receivers?  However, McGloin had tons of time and it almost seemed like Eastern Michigan was afraid to pressure him.  McGloin has not performed well against better defenses (Alabama and Florida in the bowl game) but he seems to excel against inferior or middle-of-the-pack competition.

I hate to say it, but the platoon system may be the best thing for Penn State right now.  Who knows what might have happened in the bowl game had we allowed Bolden to get some snaps?  But then again, both played against Bama with poor results.  But let's face it:  Bama is the better team.

At any rate, I expect we'll see the two headed monster at QB for most of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:

Turnovers really kept EMU in this game, if you can argue that a 28 point spread is being in the game.  The fumble through the end zone cost some bettors some money, or perhaps it was the INT of Bolden that set up the first field goal for EMU. 

Penn State's D continues to dominate, but the injury losses are going to hurt us down the road I fear.

INTANGIBLES:

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

The drum major stuck both flips.

Paterno notched win number 404.  Penn State is 2-0 all-time against the emus.

Lots of empty seats in the stadium.  I'm too disgusted to talk about that.

The slow wave and the wave on Red Bull are just simply cool to watch, if they are not over done.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Winners this week include:

Brady Hoke coached his new team over his old one, San Diego State, 28-7.

The Badgers rolled over South Dakota 59-10.

The Cornhuskers beat Wyoming 38-14.

MSU beat Central Michigan 45-7.

The Cheateyes rebounded against Colorado 37-17.

Illinois squeaked one out over Western Michigan 23-20.

And the losers are:

Indiana fell to North Texas 24-21.

Minnesota dropped another game to North Dakota State 37-24.  Note to Gopher A.D.:  Don't schedule the Bisons again.

Purdue and Northwestern enjoyed bye weeks.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  WVU--lost to LSU at home 47-21.
2.  Pitt lost in the fourth quarter a second week in a row, 15-12 to the Irish.
3.  Toledo lost to Syracuse in OT, but should have won in regulation because the refs called a missed PAT good when it was not.
4.  F$U--Clemson handed them second loss in a row
5.  Texas A&M--came up short against the cowpokes.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State opens conference play on the road at Indiana.

The Hoosiers are 1-3:

Lost to Ball State 27-20
Lost to Virginia 34-31
Beat South Carolina State 38-21
Lost to North Texas 24-21.

Despite our troubles, we are not THAT bad.  But it will be an early game, and we start slow.  I still don't think we will have too much trouble coming away with a win.  Indiana has never beaten Penn State in football.  It won't happen this week either.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Statistically Speaking: EMU Edition


It has been said that there are three kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies and statistics.

Comparing statistics at this point is like comparing apples and baseballs.  Penn State has faced the likes of Alabama and Temple.  Yes--Temple.  EMU has faced THEM and Alabama State, neither of which compares equally with Alabama.  And Temple could probably beat Howard and Alabama State worse than Eastern Michigan did.

Ordinarily, I don't start publishing these stats until we hit Big Ten season, but when I looked at them this past week, I did a double take.

Statistically speaking, EMU is comparable to Penn State, the difference in competition notwithstanding.

NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:PSUEMU
Rushing666
Passing Offense106118
Total Offense10383
Scoring Offense90100
Rushing Defense4275
Turnovers Gained3164
Passes Had Intercepted4972
Pass Defense711
Net Punting10870
Punt Returns5935
Kickoff Returns5362
Turnover Margin3277
Fumbles Recovered5353
Passes Intercepted1860
Fumbles Lost3535
Turnovers Lost4465
Passing Efficiency115112
Pass Efficiency Defense1131
Total Defense929
Scoring Defense2529
Fewest Penalties Per Game4197
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 44113
Punt Return Yardage Defense10429
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense911
Offense Third-down Efficiency8783
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency1351
Defense Third-down Efficiency3689
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency481
Tackles for Loss765
Offense Tackles for Loss1173
Pass Sacks7616
Pass Sacks Allowed4444
Time of Possession6664
First Downs8997
First Downs Allowed1447
Red Zone Efficiency7581
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense10664
Average NCAA Rank:56.1457.89
Weighted Avg. Rank:59.561.75

They are better than we are offensively so far.  Of course, so are 102 other teams.  But defensively, we don't see the statistical edge that I expected.  In terms of pass defense and scoring defense, the difference is insignificant.

EMU appears to be better special teams-wise.

Seriously?  Three games into the season and we are statistically equal with Eastern Michigan.

Penn State is a 29 point favorite over the Eagles.  Hope we don't need any last second heroics or goal line stands to pull this one out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Say It Ain't Jay, Joe


While Penn State fans may ardently debate and be unable to agree on whether Bolden or McGloin should start, very few fans debate the obvious.  Penn State's Offense sucks.

The question is why?

I probably won't get many dissidents if I suggest one of the problems involves the coaching staff.  And namely, Joe's son, who coincidentally, became the Quarterbacks Coach in 2000 and has been calling offensive plays at least since Galen Hall joined the staff in 2004.

Here's how the Penn State Offense has performed (national rankings) since 2000:



YearOffenseRecordPercentage
RushingPassingTotal
20006284845-70.42
20018854795-60.45
20021072149-40.69
200390861033-90.25
200481901044-70.36
200514743311-10.92
20064358539-40.69
20072975559-40.69
200817371411-20.85
200941393711-20.85
20107452687-60.54
2011661061032-10.67
Average51.2568.9262.2586-530.61
Paternopre-2000317-83-30.79
current403-136-30.75



With the exception of 2002, Larry Johnson, Jr.'s senior year, no aspect of the offense has ranked higher than 14th.  They were 10th behind a senior laden line in 2002.

Proponents of Jay Paterno point to the "successes" of Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark.  I submit to you that these two athletes succeeded in spite of the system, not because of it.  Robinson had only one year, went 11-1, but the passing offense only ranked 75th in the nation.  For the most part, he was misused in the offense before that year.

Clark led the team for two years, 2008-9, and posted back to back 11 win seasons.  But he looked worse as a QB his senior year (IMHO) and the stats bear out that the offense as a whole was worse in 2009.  In other words, he was not developed.  He may have regressed a little.

The only quarterbacks who seem to succeed (as defined by winning, since none of the passing offense ranking support success) are those that can run the ball and make things happen when the play that was called falls apart.  A lot of that is instinct and athleticism--not coaching.  In fact, I remember when they tried to force Michael Robinson not to run outside a circle during practice.  How insane is that?

If you take Clark's numbers out of the list, the average passing offense ranking is 75.1 (out of 115-120 schools.)  Not even in the top 50% of all schools.

Two quarterbacks have left the program, and their loss may have hurt us, especially now in terms of depth.

No quarterback has been drafted by the NFL purely as a quarterback.

Is it the quarterbacks coach?  Is it the play-calling system of Hall calling running plays and Jay calling pass plays?  Is it a combination of these things?

Over the years, speculation and rumors have flown regarding the idea that Joe Paterno wants Jay to succeed him as the next Penn State head coach.

Ten years or so ago, I would have scoffed at that rumor.

Now . . . I'm not so sure.

Fran Ganter went from assistant head coach to a desk job.  Galen Hall has come in, but it seems pretty clear that Hall will retire when Joe does.  Tom Bradley was encouraged by Paterno to apply for other head coaching jobs.  Why would Joe want to replace a fixture on the sideline like Tom this late in his career?  Maybe it was to get rid of an obstacle to the succession plan?

Assuming that Dick Anderson, Galen Hall and Bill Kenney are either too old or not in the succession plan, the only person on staff with more seniority than Jay is Tom.  Had Bradley taken another job, Larry Johnson would likely have taken over as defensive coordinator.  He has 16 years of experience at Penn State.  Jay has 17.  THINK ABOUT THAT.

Paterno has insisted or insinuated over the years that he wants the next coach to come from within the program--that is, when he's willing to talk about it.  How can you be 84 years old and never thought about retiring?  I'm not saying there aren't people 84 and older who are still active in their profession, but surely they have at least given the thought of retirement some consideration at some point.  Slowly but surely, the various candidates to replace Joe have fallen along the wayside, leaving Jay one Tom Bradley away from being the most likely candidate FROM WITHIN.

Keep in mind that this conspiracy theory is not predicated on whether this scenario could happen.  Rather, the whole thing is based on whether or not Joe thinks he could make it happen.

Several other things have surfaced this year which have me concerned.  One is the sudden press that the younger Paterno is receiving.

The September-October issue of the The Penn Stater has a feature article on Jay.
They don’t like his politics. They don’t like his hobbies. And they’re pretty sure he can’t coach. Jay Paterno hears the critics, but he pays them no mind. He’s got his hands full as a father, husband, writer, political activist, and, yes, football coach.

Imagine how they’d feel if he one day inherits his father’s job. This is the nightmare scenario of Penn State football conspiracy theorists, the thought of Jay Paterno someday ascending to the throne. At this, the alleged heir apparent just laughs.

"Who wouldn’t want to be head coach here? Yeah, that would be fantastic, but it’s going to be somebody else’s decision," Jay says. "The worst thing you can do to put Joe in a bad mood is say, ‘Hey, when you retire…’, so we don’t talk about it. There is no great conspiracy, there is no plan, and I’m in no hurry to see it happen."

And then the Nittany Lion Club Newsletter featured Jay Paterno as well.

Heʼs one of the most visible assistant coaches in major college football—the head coachʼs son, a Penn State alumnus and a former Penn State football letterman who has coached at three other schools and helped produce numerous standout performers during a 21-year career.







Doesn't that sound like we're padding the resumè?  The other three schools were Virginia (3yrs as graduate asst.), Connecticut (wide receivers and tight ends-1yr.) and James Madison (quarterbacks-1yr.)  He 'played' for Penn State, but I'm not sure he ever threw a pass in that capacity.  He was not a starting QB.  Numerous stand out performers?  Clark and Robinson aside (and I'm not convinced they stood out because of Jay,) who are these standouts of which they speak????



And then this past week, Joe Paterno said this about his son and the non-loss over Temple:

Fourth-down confusion: It was widely reported after Saturday's game that most of the assistant coaches wanted to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Temple 3, a decision that helped PSU win the game. JoePa remembers it differently and gave all the credit to his son, the quarterbacks coach. "Everybody wanted to kick the ball except Jay Paterno," he said. "We would have kicked that ball if it wasn't for Jay. Jay said, 'No, we'll put it in, we'll get it in.' And he said something to the quarterbacks about, 'Hey, you tell those guys they've got to get it in.' And we got it in."

So why didn't he tell them to do that earlier, instead of waiting for fourth down in the closing minutes of what would have been a devastating upset to this program?  Seriously, why did Paterno feel the need to point this out to the media?  Is there a hidden (maybe subconscious) agenda?

What do you think?

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Than You Care To Know

How much do you know about Eastern Michigan University?

Liar!  You do not.  Except for you.  Yeah, you there in there corner of the Internet, hunched over your computer in your mother's basement wearing the EMU sweatshirt.  You know, but you went there.  That doesn't count.

For the rest of us, EMU is a school (we presume) in Michigan (one of the 50 states that is not Alaska or Hawaii) and probably, but not necessarily, in the eastern part of that state.  It might as well be in Kalamazoo for all I know.

Well, after exhaustive research (somebody from EMU owes me a beer) I discovered that EMU is in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  It might as well be in Kalamazoo for all I know.  Kalamazoo would be better.  Or Hell, Michigan.  Actually, a city in another state might be best.

For many years, the school played under the name Michigan State Normal College, probably to distinguish it from the Michigan State Abnormal College (which ultimately adopted the wolverine and became THEM.)  The MSNC were known as the Hurons and had an Indian mascot.  Perish the thought!

So like any liberal University that eschews censorship and narrow mindedness, they bent to politically correct pressure and cast their Indian Heritage aside for the eagle.

Now I ask you, why didn't they just the keep the Hurons and adopt the Great Lake as their mascot?  Okay, a great lake as a mascot would be pretty silly.  Maybe the Herons--like the bird.  Not as noble as the eagle, but certainly rare among mascots.  Or even the emu, kind of an obvious choice if you ask me and there aren't many emu mascots running around.  Just ask this guy.
I'm a Great Lake . . . only smaller!


But they didn't.  They adopted the Eagle over the Green Hornets and the Express.  I have absolutely no clue why the Express would be considered in this discussion.  Maybe it's like the first level of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and it's just a humorous choice that only a moron would pick. 



There is actually a Huron Restoration Chapter of Alumni . . . "once a Huron, always a Huron!"

Alrighty then.

Their school colors are GREEN and WHITE.  Like Michigan State, only more eastern and less Greek.

The team is coached by Ron English, erstwhile defensive coordinator from THEM, who is 4-23 in his third year.   Of course, the bar is considerably lower in Eastern Michigan.
  • an all-time record of 428-519-47
  • never ended a season ranked in any major poll
  • eight winless seasons, in 1891, 1910, 1941, 1949, 1960, 1961, 1981 and 2009
  •  is among the worst Division I FBS schools both in all-time win percentage (45.4%, for 107 out of 120) and in all-time scoring margin (-1898, for 108 out of 120)
  • a 27-game losing streak in the early 1980s
  • lost 14-3 in the 1971 Pioneer Bowl in Wichita Falls, TX
That is some unimpressive history there.  But they did win a bowl game, upsetting San Jose State in the 1987 California Bowl after winning their only MAC championship.

They have won the Michigan MAC Trophy (awarded to the best team among Eastern, Central and Western Michigan) twice, in 2007-8.


Their stadium is named for a former coach, Elton Rynearson, who sounds vaguely, and perhaps disturbingly, like Ned Ryerson of Groundhog Day fame.  This man was able to lead this team to two undefeated seasons--in the 1920's.  He also played baseball for the Kalamazoo Kazoos!  He died in Ann Arbor, probably under suspicious circumstances.

Famous Alumni include George Allen, and current NFL players Charlie Batch, Jason Jones, T.J. Lang and Kevin Walters.

What more do you need to know?

Don't ask me, ask the guy with the Eastern Michigan flag hanging in the corner of his basement.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post Game Reactions: Broken TV Edition

Are we being too hard on our offense?

I think not.

We struggled against Indiana State, despite putting 41 points on the board.  ISU won their next two games over Butler (48-34) and Western Kentucky (44-16).

We managed only 11 points against a stiff Bama defense.

Should we have put more points on the board versus Temple?  We certainly COULD have, if we had had a field goal kicker.

But I didn't credit Temple's defense a bit, even though the Owls gave up a total of 10 points in the two previous games (Villanova and Akron.)

Personally, I don't think our offense can blame Temple's defense for the problems we are having scoring points.

But then I read a Temple fan's recap of the game.  Do you know why Temple lost?  It wasn't because the Penn State defense mauled them in the second half.  It is because Temple's Offense lost the game for them.
A team that has Bernard Pierce, Mike Gerardi, Joey Jones, Evan Rodriguez, Rod Streater, Matty Brown, Alex Jackson and Deon Miller should not be struggling to put points on the board, no matter who the opponent.
Seriously?  Are Temple fans as poor at football analysis as their team is at playing the game?  You expect your offense to generate the same points against Oklahoma (or say, Penn State) as you would against Akron????
To me, that lack of offensive help is the most disappointing thing.
A team that has a 6-5, 320-pound offensive line, should be able to get a push from time to time and protect the quarterback with regularity, no matter who the opponent.
If size were all that mattered, Wisconsin would never lose a game.

I am somewhat offended that no credit was even given to the Penn State D.  Even I admitted that Bama was the better team last week.  Didn't change the fact that our offense sucks, but a good D magnifies that problem.

Maybe Temple has a better D than we expected.

I don't know much about that, but my hair is fierce.

And I know looking at Temple's remaining schedule--Maryland, Toledo, Ball State, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Ohio, Miami (OH),  Army and Kent State--they won't face a tougher defense than they saw this past Saturday.  Unfortunately for the Owls, they'll probably face a few better offenses.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Surely Temple

Surely Temple can't beat Penn State.

No.  They can't. And please don't call me Shirley.

Let's replay my recap from LAST YEAR:
It was not the greatest upset in college football history and not even the most amazing upset in the program’s storied history, but in the end, Penn State managed to upset the Temple Owls 22-13 14-10.

The Mighty and Most-annoying Owls came into Beaver Stadium Lincoln Financial Field as if they already had the game won. They were actually disappointed that they did not win. They couldn’t believe they didn’t win. They were already reserving tickets for a BCS game (they already had the rest of the season won as well.)

But that is why we play these games. The heavily favored (in their own minds) Owls came out swinging. THEY CAME TO PLAY. (If I hear that one more time I may just have to kill someone.) And for almost three four quarters, the Cherry and Vanilla played like they were going to win. THEY DESERVED TO WIN. (If you say that one more time, you are next on my list.) But like any great team that gets upset, they let a pesky opponent—WHO ALSO CAME TO PLAY—hang around too long and the Lions snatched away victory in the final quarter of play.
It's deja blue and white all over again.

Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941.  There was a tie in 1950, and the Owls have not won in the last 29 meetings.  Joe Paterno has never lost to Temple.

So why does Temple not understand their role in this drama?  We don't play them every year because we need more competition.  Are not all the checks and the third largest crowd in your team's history not enough for you?  Do you really need to actually win one of these scrimmages?

You would probably like to hear about how I fretted over this game.  Or how I threw small articles and pets at my TV screen in anger.  Or perhaps that I have bitten my nails down to the bone and am typing with blood dripping all over my keyboard from the stumps.

The truth is . . . I DVR'd the game and was at my son's hockey game when this travesty occurred.  My daughter's boyfriend texted her the final score before I got home.

I knew you couldn't do it,
even when you've got nothing to lose.
You're weak. And I've outgrown you.
I can't say that I am surprised.  Penn State was coming off an emotional loss.  Temple had absolutely nothing to lose.  Penn State's offense has been sputtering worse than a '71 GMC Pacer on cheap gas.

Penn State turned the ball over once, missed two field goals and had a third one blocked, had a touchdown called back for holding, and had a punt blocked--and TEMPLE STILL COULDN'T WIN THE GAME with perhaps their best team ever.


Our defense played the kind of game it needed to play to win this game.  The offense played the kind of game Penn State needed to play to barely win this game.  The special teams played the kind of game the team needed to lose this game.

Even knowing the outcome, this game was painful to watch.  I still tossed small pets at the TV and pulled out what little hair I had left.  If it weren't for defense, we'd have no team at all . . . gloom, despair, and agony for us.

Thank Heavens Temple didn't hire Bradley.  They might have won this game.

By The Numbers:

From GoPSUsports:

Turnovers, as in most cases, were huge in this game.  Two interceptions late in the game killed the Owls chance to pull off the impossible upset.

Penn State held Bernard Pierce to 54 yards on 17 carries.  Some Owl fans think his injury and inability to finish the game last season helped Penn State pull out the win.  Well, he played this whole game and they STILL didn't pull out the win.

INTANGIBLES:

It was a small crowd by PSU standards, with 57,323 fans in attendance.

Temple won the toss and elected to defer.

The Owl screeching after a Temple moral victory was quite annoying on the TV.  I can't imagine how headache-inducing it was to endure in person.  Yet another reason to not actually go to one of these "away" games.

Joe Paterno is rambling after Grambling, with win number 403, just 5 behind Eddie Robinson on the all-time list.

People with more time on their hands than I counted the number of times ESPN showed the closed windows behind which Joe Paterno apparently coached.  Thirteen, in case you are wondering.  But they did not show Dan Persa's mom once.  According to the announcers, the Penn State coaches didn't know how to open the windows.  No wonder they can't coach the offense!
Pay no attention to that man behind the windows!

I almost spewed my beer when the announcers said that Steve Addazio thinks Temple could be the Boise of the East.

Penn State is now tied for fourth on the all-time list of consecutive win streaks over a single opponent, and the highest one that is currently active.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The contenders:

Nebraska beat Washington 51-38.

Wisconsin rolled over Northern Illinois 49-7.

Illinois upset Arizona State 17-14.

THEM softened up EMU for us, beating their intrastate rival 31-3.

Iowa edged the Panthers 31-27.

Purdue crushed SE Missouri State 59-0.

Indiana beat South Carolina . . .wait for it . . . State 38-21.

The pretenders:

Miami (FL) under Al Golden knock off the Buckeyes, 24-6.

Army beat Northwestern 21-14.

The Irish notched their first win of the year against the Spartans, 31-13.

The Gophers beat Miami (OH) 29-22.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Sparty--spanked by a win-less ND team
2.  Navy--upset bid over the gamecocks comes up 3 points short
3.  Auburn--winning streak snapped by Clemson
4.  Loser of the F$U - Oklahoma game
5.  the ACC--Pitt and Syracuse apparently banging on the door.  If I were them, I'd pretend I wasn't home!

LOOKING AHEAD:

EMU comes to Beaver Stadium next Saturday.

The Eagles are 2-1 with wins over Howard (41-9) and Alabama State (14-7).  They lost today in Ann Arbor 31-3.

The last time these two teams faced each other, 1992, Penn State won 52-7.

I don't think we can score 52, but we should win.  It's not like we're playing a powerhouse like Shirley Temple.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Angry Owls?

The opening line for Penn State against Temple was 10 points.  Depending on who you ask now, that line ranges from 6.5 to 8.  A lot of money and faith is being put on Temple.

Or, more specifically, bettors are turning against dear old state.

It's not that Temple is such a great pick, it's just that the Lions aren't looking so good right now.

Temple Football Forever (talk about your purgatory there) predicts a 24-20 victory by the angry birds.

There's a buzz about Temple vs. Penn State this year that I don't ever remember in my Temple vs. Penn State lifetime and that's half of Joe Paterno's years.

I really feel the stars are perfectly aligned for a Temple win over Penn State this time.

I've never felt this strongly before.
Strange, but that is the feeling I had before we played Bama last Saturday.

We'll go into those details later in the week but suffice it to say that Temple has a healthy NFL first-round draft pick and a stone-cold stud carrying the ball (Penn State doesn't), Temple has a defensive coordinator who was 12-0 as a DC on a BCS bowl team (Penn State doesn't), Temple has a relatively youthful head coach who is a master motivator (and Penn State doesn't) and Temple has an offensive coordinator who developed Tom Brady and Tim Tebow (and Penn State doesn't).

Apparently, the Buzz extends to people named Buzz.

Not just any Buzz, mind you, the most famous person in the world named Buzz, Pulitizer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger who correctly predicts a Temple victory over Penn State here. You've got to figure someone who writes about football with that kind of insight and lives in Pennsylvania knows a little about the state of the two programs at this time.

Temple also has a massive offensive line that averages 6-5, 320 (and PSU doesn't) and a Big 33 MVP (Adrian Robinson) and Penn State does not.

What will Temple have on Saturday that Penn State doesn't have?

A win that day, 24-20.

The stars are perfectly aligned.

And the Hale-Bop Comet is the way to salvation!  Can I get a great big Amen!  Pass that Kool Aid, brother!

I wonder if Silas Redd gives a hoot about not being a stone-cold stud?  I'd rather have a red hot thoroughbred--thorough-redd--myself, but that's just me.

Dan Stamm asks whether this could be Temple's year?
Will this finally be the year of the Owl? Maybe but the fact that they are even being considered on the same level as the mighty Penn State show’s how far the Temple program has come under former coach Al Golden and current coach Steve Addazio.

“There’s a buzz around our program, it’s great for our program, we’re playing well,” Addazio said. “Who knows what that outcome’s going to be but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”
There's that buzz word again.  BUZZ.  Sounds like they have a bee problem.  I had a hard drive that buzzed one time right before it crashed forever.  But I digress.

I'm sorry, but this isn't about how far Temple has come.  It is about how far Penn State has fallen.  This discussion wouldn't even be happening if we had some offensive coaches.

And if beating a Penn State team for the first time in over half a cenury when we're struggling is what your program needs to justify itself, then so be it.  That doesn't make you as good as Penn State.  That brings you up to the level of Pitt.

Angry Owls Hope Penn State lays an EGG.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bad Weekend For Football

It started on Friday night.  My Alma Mater, Altoona High, lost to McKeesport 47-7.

And then there was the Penn State "game."  I popped a blood vessel on my eye.  I think it happened when I thought we had stopped Bama on the fake punt.  Might have been later but I remember seeing twinkles in my vision.  Pretty sure my blood pressure was up then.

And then the Steeler game Sunday . . . 35-7 ????  R U Kidding me????

Man, I'm almost glad Monday finally came.

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.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What are You Waiting For?



Me too, kid.

Me too!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Right Wing Football?

We all know that Joe Paterno plays conservative football.  Rarely do Penn State teams run up the score unless it is against over-matched opponents.  The play-calling sphincter generally tightens to the point that if he farted, only dogs would be able to hear the sound.

But what about Nick Saban?

Here's some excerpts on the Alabama coach's conservatism:

Regarding the BCS Title game against Texas:
Known for his conservative approach to game-calling, Alabama coach Nick Saban went against his usual personality Thursday.
Notes on Julio Jones:

Was underutilized in Nick Saban's conservative, run- orientated system and might be a better pro than college player with more opportunities

In reviewing why Alabama lost 3 games last season, oddsmaker Danny Sheridan concludes:

They got conservative in those games and that’s why they lost.

And Bleacher Report prefaces a look at what to expect for Alabama football this year with this:

Though he's known to call very conservative plays and manage the clock, his teams still stun the crowd with a few wild plays each year.

I don't think I need to post any evidence that Joe Paterno is conservative in "big games."

So what am I getting at here?

It appears this Saturday's match-up features two coaches with conservative coaching philosophies.  They both have arguably good, if not great defenses.  Both offenses are having trouble moving the ball consistently.  Neither coach has been able to name a starting quarterback.  Alabama has an elephant as a mascot.  Can you get any more Republican than that?

I doubt very seriously that we are looking at a 6-4 type of game here, but who knows with the weather threatening.  But it might be safe to conclude that it will be low scoring.

If that's the case, the edge might fall in Penn State's favor.  This is the type of game (think O$U in 2005 and 2008) that Paterno excels in coaching.  Moreover, Paterno is more successful against coaches--like Jim Tressel--that tend to play things close to the sweatervest as well.  In contrast, Paterno had trouble with coaches like Lloyd Carr, who seemed to have more of a killer instinct and became more aggressive in big games, not content to "sit" on a lead, although Carr had a series of NFL-caliber quarterbacks that made that kind of play possible.

I wouldn't be surprised if neither team managed more than 21 points.  I think it will be a close contest, and it may all turn on a single turn-over. 

We can only hope that Bama, with two inexperienced quarterbacks, makes that fatal mistake.

And I also won't be surprised if old Joe finds a way to squeeze out one more win against Alabama.

1979 Sugar Bowl

Never Forget . . .



Sorry about the poor singing voice, but you get the idea . . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Penn State Moves Up

Penn State breaks the AP Poll at #23, and moves up to #20 in the USA Today Poll.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Are We Ready to Rock and Roll the Tide?

Bleach is perfect for a WHITE OUT!
Why do eskimos wash their clothes in Tide?
Because it's too darned cold out tide!

Sorry, but the stress is starting to get to me.

While Saturday's 3:30 game with Bama has little bearing on the outcome in the Big Ten (to the extent that I think some tiebreakers involve overall results and rankings), it is one of the biggest homegames since O$U came to Beaver Stadium in 2005, and Nebraska in 2002.  You can also throw in THEM in 2006 and Miami (FL) in 2001, but the outcomes of those tilts were not so favorable for the fans clad in blue and white.  Or white alone, as will be the case this weekend.

Can Penn State win this game?  If you ask most PSU fans, including myself, we have our doubts.  Interestingly, despite being ranked #2, Alabama fans are worried about this game as well.  Maybe not all of them, but this blogger from RollBamaRoll is concerned after the Tide's performance against Kent State this past weekend.  He even dropped his Bama team in the blogpoll from 2 to 3.


Say what you will about the overall performance yesterday afternoon, but at the very least we should have a healthy squad against Penn State, which was something we did not have a year ago. 


The quarterback battle received much of the attention today, and rightly so. Both quarterbacks did some good things and some bad things, but clearly on the whole A.J. McCarron had the better day of the two. Does that result in more playing time for him next weekend, or will the three series strategy hold true for another week? Your guess is as good as mine at this point, but clearly McCarron bolstered his case yesterday afternoon. Having said that, though, even McCarron has room to improve and the play of both players left some desires unfulfilled. McCarron improved his positioning yesterday, but it's hard to see him winning the quarterback battle based upon the strength of that performance alone.


Turnovers, however, remain a major concern. McCarron and Sims each tossed two interceptions each, including one from Sims which was a de facto interception return for a touchdown, and 'Bama put the ball on the ground four more times. Fumble luck was fortunate yesterday (only one lost on four fumbles), but four interceptions and four fumbles against a quality opponent -- read Penn State -- is almost a guaranteed to yield a loss [emphasis added] regardless of how much fumble luck you may experience. Beating Penn State will be exceedingly difficult unless the Tide does not improve over how it protected the football yesterday in the season opener. The same goes for Arkansas, LSU, and many others.


While the offense had some issues and never really seemed to develop a rhythm, the defense was nothing short of outstanding in a dominating performance against Kent State. The Golden Flashes managed only 90 yards of total offense off 70 plays, and the pass defense averaged roughly one yard per pass. Making matters better, 'Bama actually stopped the run with authority yesterday, as opposed to merely limiting the run, which was the case all throughout the 2010 season. The Kent State tailbacks averaged well under three yards per carry, and the longest run from scrimmage all afternoon was a mere six yards. Throw in a few sacks and you basically did it all... stopped the run, stopped the pass, pressured the passer. A bit more takeaways would have been nice, but that's clearly nitpicking given the overall play yesterday afternoon. Yes it was against a weak offense, admittedly, but any performance of this nature is highly impressive regardless of the quality of opponent.


The biggest disappointment of the day was easily the sluggish play of the offensive line. Pass protection was shaky at times, though at least somewhat serviceable, but the run game was again almost non-existent.


Up until that last comment, you could probably have substituted Penn State for Bama and ISU for Kent State, and it would read more or less true.  However, our running game looked better than it has in several years, albeit against a different level of competition than we will face this coming week.

The Nittans Who Say Ny

Head Knight: The Nittans Who Say Ny demand a sacrifice!

King JoePa: Nittans of Ny, we are but simple travelers who seek the enchanter who lives beyond these woods--

Nittans who say Ny: WE ARE PENN STATE!

King JoePa: Oh, ow!

Head Knight: We shall say " WE ARE PENN STATE! " again to you, if you do not appease us.

King JoePa: Well, what do you want?

Head Knight: We want a shrubbery!!

 Later . . .
King JoePa: We are looking for a shrubbery...

ISU: Aggh! No! Never! We have no shrubberies here.  We are TREES!

King JoePa: If you do not tell us where we can buy a shrubbery, my friends and I will say... we will say... 'We are Penn State!'.

ISU: Agh! Do your worst!

King JoePa: Very well! If you will not assist us voluntarily,... 'We are Penn State!

ISU: No! Never! No shrubberies!

King JoePa: 'We are Penn State! '

ISU: [cough]

CURLEY THE SHRUBBER: Are you saying 'We are Penn State!' to that old tree?

King JoePa: Erm, yes.

CURLEY: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can 'We are Penn State!' at will to old trees. There is a pestilence upon this land. Nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies and football schedules are under considerable economic stress at this period in history.

King JoePa: Did you say 'shrubberies'? AND football schedules?

CURLEY: Yes. Shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is CURLEY the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies and football schedules.  I decorate cupcakes too.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Are Lumberjacks and We're Okay

Penn State opened its 125th Season of football against the Mighty Sycamores of Indiana State.  One kick.  One man--Chaz Powell.  95 yard return.  Cha-pow! 

And just like that, Indiana State was uprooted and never had a chance.  They did attempt a 42-yard field goal early in the second quarter which would have made it a 14-3 game, but the kick was wide right and the Sycamores did not score until 2:15 left in the fourth quarter against the Penn State back-ups.

The weather was great--perhaps too great.  But my new seats were under the North Upper Deck, so at least I watched the game in the shade.  The view is approximately the same view I had before I was ousted from SK, but from nearly the opposite side of the stadium.

I had the opportunity to meet fellow blogger and Penn State fan Carolyn Todd before the game at our tailgate.  Her husband Terry has now attended 258 STRAIGHT PSU football games.  Carolyn herself is on a streak of 122 games.  They are great people and I hope to see them again some time.  You can read her take on the game at View From The Stands.

Other than the fact that I have to walk more than halfway around the stadium to get to our seats, I really like where we ended up.  Of course, looking out at all the empty seats and knowing that the University has not sold out the season tickets, I am more than a little disappointed in the STEP program.  But I suppose it is making money, and that's what really matters, right?

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can say about this game. It was really nothing more than a glorified scrimmage, and truth be told, we probably faced stiffer competition in the blue-white game, than we did this past Saturday.

Going into the game, I wondered if we would even hear Zombie Nation being played.  That question was answered on the opening kick-off.  Sweet Caroline debuted at the 8:20 mark.

What?  You want me to actually talk about the GAME? 

It was a game of ups and downs.  You can lurk on any message board in Nittany Nation if you want to debate which quarterback did better and who should be starting next week.  I don't really know.  I think Bolden is probably the better athlete, but both quarterbacks had trouble with the Indiana State pressure, and that makes me worry about our offensive line more than the quarterbacks.

Obviously, the O-line has shown some improvement, at least in the running game.  Or maybe that is because of Redd and Beachum.  The full backs had a busy day. 

Overall, the play calling was very conservative.  We did throw downfield a little bit, and perhaps the receivers should have caught some balls that would have made Bolden's stats look better.

I give Indiana State credit for not giving up and fighting to the end.  They really did put themselves in an emotional and score board hole with that opening kick-off return.

Our special teams are concerning.  We missed two field goals and a PAT.  A couple of kicks looked like my golf shots off the tee.  The loss of Fera could be huge.  And while we didn't give up any big returns, we did not pin ISU deep on kick-offs or punts.

But I am reluctant to translate this performance into a prediction for the rest of the season, much the same way as you can't predict the success of a team based on the blue-white scrimmage.  I like the fact that the team came out fired up and rode the opening kick-off return momentum to a 14 point lead quickly.  But the excitement can only last so long against an inferior opponent, and we fell into some sloppy play before taking a comfortable 28-0 lead into the half.

Quite frankly, I had trouble keeping focused on the game.  I'm sure the players felt the same ennui.  Against better competition, I hope the focus will stay better.

It has to, or this will be a long season.

BY THE NUMBERS:

I noted in RED the areas which seem to stick out.  we outgained them just as you would expect.  Should we have had more yards?  More points?  Perhaps.  But you got the sense that there was no urgency after the opening scores.  Don't equate lack of production with an inability to produce.

The defense played a solid game.  Most of those 8 first downs were in the fourth quarter.

I am concerned with the number of sacks we gave up, and the kick stats as noted above.  I shudder to think how things will be next week if we can't keep Alabama around or inside the twenty on kick-offs--assuming we kick off much next week.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major stuck both flips.

Penn State won the toss and received. 

Official attendance was 96,461.  Kudos to those fans who came to this level of opponent.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Only Minnesota and Indiana failed to win their opening games.

Nebraska beat Chattanooga 40-7.
Ohio State knocked off Akron 42-0.
THEM beat Western Michigan 34-10.
Illinois topped Arkansas State 33-15.
Northwestern edged BC 24-17.
Purdue survived against Middle Tennessee State 27-24.
Iowa defeated Tenn Tech 34-7.
Wisconsin beat UNLV 51-17.
MSU beat YSU 28-6.
The Hoosiers lost to Ball State 27-20.
The Gophers lost to USC 19-17.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  ND--over-rated again, the Irish lost to South Florida.  God tried to stop the game twice with lightning, but even that couldn't help.
2.  Oregon--thanks for playing.
3.  TCU--ditto, and what a heart-wrenching loss after being down 47-23 to come back only to lose in the last 64 seconds on a FG, 50-48!
4.  Georgia--lost to Boise State, but man, those Broncos are good.
5.  Utah State--almost upset the defending National Chumps, but allowed Tigers to score with 30 seconds left to shatter the glass slipper, losing 42-38.
6.  Oregon State--Beavers were App Stated by Sacramento State 29-28 in OT.

LOOKING AHEAD:

This is the Big One, Elizabeth.  And Redd (Silas, not Redd Foxx) better have a great game.

Alabama is struggling at the QB position at the moment.  I'm not going to argue about who has the better D.  The stats suggest Bama does and let's let it at that.  I think I saw the Tide opened as a 10 point favorite.

Penn State must be able to maintain field position.  Force the Tide to go the distance to score on you.  Minimize turn overs and hopefully create a couple.  Both Bama Qbs threw 2 INTs against Kent State.  Penn State needs to shut down the run and force them to pass, if they are going to have a chance in this game.  The crowd needs to do its part to upset the rhythm of these young quarterbacks.  It would be really helpful if we could score quickly.

The game is set for 3:30.  It will be a WHITEHOUSE GAME.  Wear white!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Forrest Thump?

For the most part, the slogans for the Citizen's Bank Buttons are pretty good.

And then there was this week's button.

FORREST THUMP.

I get the slogan.  It's a take on Forrest Gump.  The Sycamores are "the trees."  Trees make up a forest.  Forest = Forrest.  We're going to thump them on the field, or when the trees fall, they make a thump.  Hence, Forrest Thump.

But after having to explain this several times this week, I realized that sometimes you can get too cutesy and cerebral with the slogans.

Maybe Sic 'em Some More?

One of My Favorite Years--for Football AND buttons!