Sunday, September 16, 2012

Penn State Makes Navy Blue

The Midshipmen of Navy, coming off a disastrous first game loss to Notre Dame (50-10,) were looking to sail into Beaver Stadium and maneuver a win against the struggling Nittany Lions.

But O'Brien's Liens would have none of that, sinking Navy's battleship by forcing an interception and three fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Mike Hull.  When he first scooped the ball up and took off, he looked like a lumbering lineman that would be gassed before he reached the 50.  But Hull picked up speed and a cadre of Lion defenders en route to a 74 yard touchdown return.  There was not a Navy player within a nautical mile of Mike's Hull.

Offensively, Navy out gained the Lions by 50 yards, won time of possession by 13 minutes and ran 83 plays to PSU's 49.  The difference (aside from the aforementioned turnovers):  Penn State gained 7.0 yards per play to Navy's 4.7.  Navy won most categories except for the score.  So Penn State has lost a game it could have won, lost a game it should have won, and won the game it statistically shouldn't have.

Penn State did not miss a field goal . . . but did not attempt one.  With time ticking away in the second half, and faced with a fourth and goal at the Navy eight yard line, O'Brien elected not to miss the field goal and went for it.  The pass was incomplete and left some fans muttering that he should have taken the three points, or stood impotently on the sideline while Ficken missed again.  Hell, it would practically be an extra point, but we've missed two of those in the last two weeks.  I can't fault O'Brien for being aggressive with a 20-0 lead, and knowing his kicker is struggling. 

But we must wonder about the psyche of Sam Ficken right now, because there will be games in the future where his foot will be called upon to generate points.  You could easily argue that we didn't need the three (although there was still a whole half of football left to play) and it might have given Ficken some confidence in a relatively low pressure situation.  And there in lies the rub.  What if he had given Ficken the chance . . . and he missed again.  More harm than good.  Maybe it's best to put some space between last week's flurry of missed opportunities and wait for the right moment for the young man to redeem himself.

Zordich had a great day, and I really like Curtis Dukes.  He seems to have a little something more than Belton or Day, and it may be his size.  He almost always gets positive yardage.  The loss of Kersey was barely noticed as Allen Robinson stepped in with a career day at receiving.

Paul Jones was sighted on the field, but not as a QB.  He came in as a receiver and has one reception for seven yards.  Do you think there may be a play in there somewhere to throw a pass???

Overall, it was a positive performance against an opponent that has the capability of beating a good team.


The Blue Band Drum Major stuck both flips.

Penn State won the toss and elected to take the ball first.  I think scoring early on that opening drive was a key to this victory.

The Navy Band performed to a gracious Beaver Stadium crowd of 98, 792.  I think the crowd was larger than the first game, but can probably be attributed to the crowd of Navy fans that came to the game.  Our tailgate was near where the Navy Band marched in.  I got to see the stream of seamen for myself.

Bill O'Brien notches his first win as Penn State's head coach.

Penn State leads the all-time series 19-17-2.  The teams last played in 1974 when Navy snuck away with a 7-6 win in a rainstorm where PSU fumbled like 5 times and missed four field goals by a guy named Chris Bahr.  How the tide has turned against Navy!

Both teams met on the field after the game for post-game tributes.

Take notice Rich Foust of Troy, OH . . . no urine bags.  When you are respectful, you earn respect.


Ohio State edged Cal 31-28.

MSU fell to the Irish in East Lansing, 20-3.

Denard Robinson crushed UMass 63-13.

Purdue steamed over EMU 54-16.

Nebraska rebounded over Arkansas State 42-13, but Coach Pellini went to the hospital by ambulance during the game and apparently checked out fine.  Or maybe they didn't take his insurance.

Iowa beat Northern Iowa 27-16.

The Badgers survived a scare as Utah State missed a field goal late and ultimately lost 16-14.

Northwestern is 3-0 after beating Boston College 22-13.

Minnesota out lasted Western Michigan 28-23 to go 3-0 on the season as well.

Illinois blanked Charleston Southern 44-0.

And Indiana lost to Ball state 41-39.


1.  The Va Tech Chokies--I quipped on the preview about taking Pitt out behind the woodshed, but it was the panthers that did the beating and done it good.  Tech fell 35-17 to future ACC member.

2.  USC--lost to Stanford.  Silas Redd.  Schadenfreud baby.

3.  La-Monroe--took Auburn to OT but couldn't take the win.

4.  Arkansas--pasted by Bama 52-0. 

5.  Three teams in the AP Top 25 scored 63 points:  THEM, LSU and Oregon.  Pity the fools that had to play these scoring machines.


The Temple Owls come to Beaver Stadium for a BLUE OUT (that means you are to wear Blue.  Yes, I'm talking to you over there with the white shirt.  Blue means blue, buddy.)

So far, Temple has done this:

W  Villanova 41-10
L   Maryland 36-27

This is a must win game for Penn State.  We're not going to a bowl.  The game means nothing in the Big Ten.  Penn State is playing for PRIDE right now.  And Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941 and our 30 game win streak over them is the longest such active streak in the NCAA.  (Unless they made us vacate that too!) We cannot let Temple take advantage of this situation.

Let's face it.  I'm ecstatic we won over Navy, but that's not like we beat a top 30 team or anything.  Navy isn't likely going to a bowl game the rate they are going.  Neither are we, but that is more a product of consent decrees as it is talent.  The win against Navy is a stepping stone, not a milestone.  Yes, it is O'Brien's first victory as head coach, but for this team, it is just one step forward.

I am impressed that we do seem to be improving each week (except for the kicking game which does concern me.)  I was particularly happy with the defensive performance this Saturday.  Navy has that kind of offense that when they get things rolling down hill, they can be hard to stop.  We stopped them.  The stats weren't pretty, but the result was sweet.

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