Monday, September 1, 2014

Shoop! There It Is!

Having been blogging about Penn State football since the mid 1990's, you'd think I would finally be able to post a game recap without forgetting something.  As if!

But while thinking back over the game notes, I realized I hadn't mentioned how great a job Bob Shoop did as defensive coordinator.  The second half was tarnished a bit by the performance of Holman at QB, but then those things happen.  When you prepare for one type of QB, and then suddenly face another, it's not always easy to adjust for that.  And Holman certainly looked like a better passer.

So here are some more thoughts that I forgot to hit yesterday:

* Zettle is a FORCE.

* Penn State played the 1st quarter with no headset communication.  Maybe that contributed to the disparity between the stats and the points.  Apparently, the NCAA doesn't have rules like the NFL, which would have equalized the situation by not allowing UCF to use their headsets.  Despite the set back, we prevailed.

* Penn State had TWO receivers over 150 yards on the day.  That's the first time in school history!

* Ficken Kickin Good--we all know he hit the game winner, but he was 4-4 on the day!

* Forgot to mention the parachutists--the PSU guy hit the stadium, but the UCF rep landed along some train tracks off the mark!  Talk about your omens from the sky!

* Did anyone notice how well we did on first downs?  I meant to look back on this but forgot.  Especially in the first half, we kicked butt on first down, leaving a LOT of 2nd and short situations.  If you look at the second down situations in the first half, Penn State had 5 second and one's, 2 second and two's, and was second and six or less 11 out of 14 second downs.  (One second and six was actually a second and one that became a second and six after a five yard penalty.)  In the second half, there were 11 second down opportunities, and PSU was 2nd and five or less 5 of those times with three second and one's.

* The running game didn't generate much yardage, but as you can see above, it didn't have to in order to keep the sticks moving.

* Hamilton and Ficken pulled in Big Ten Players of the Week Honors--not something I forgot, but worth noting at this juncture.

Some great articles were written across the pond.  Johnny Watterson of The Irish Times writes:
But first the cast and inventory: two parachutists, one on the pitch the other on the railway track; a choir of 17; two three-storey sized flags; two marching bands; three Irish Army soldiers and four marines, all bearing flags; a team of Penn State dancers and two teams of cheerleaders; soft drinks engineers; chair arranging executives; four lieutenants of the tape measure; two team rosters of 100 players each; eight team captains; 24-ish coaches and two F16s drowning out the Star Spangled Banner. Gridiron loves its hardware.   
But Penn State had a quarterback called Christian Hackenberg. “Hack”, a young man in just his second season, threw for 454 yards on Saturday, breaking Zack Mills’s single-game school record of 399 yards. 
The most important of those yards came in the run-up to Ficken’s winning field goal as “Hack”, with composure beyond his years, engineered the territory and kept the ball in Penn [State] hands.  
As it sailed over the posts at the Hill end on a trajectory towards Nally, Croke Park became the Bull Run in Pamp lona. The Penn State bench burst on to the pitch and cheerleaders were thrown in the air.
Aisling Crowe describes it as theater and sport colliding:
It was a jaw dropping, awe inspiring sight when first glimpsing the transformed interior of the stadium before the University of Central Florida clashed with the Penn State University. It was Croke Park but not as we know it. The surreal panorama spread out before your eyes. A shrunken pitch surrounded by athletic cheerleaders, acrobatically somersaulting into dangerous positions, marching bands putting a brass spin on some classics including the theme tune to The Sunday Game and flagbearers, mascots and whatever else was needed in the way of support.
The truly awesome scene was in the middle of the pitch where 200 athletes prepared to begin their college season, hopes and dreams spread out before them and the glory of last season behind champions University of Central Florida. 
The clock counted down the minutes to kick off, and a parachutist clad in the Penn State blue and white landed in the middle of the pitch. The UCF Knights parachutist went missing in action, his radar slightly wonky. He came up a little short of the pitch and landed on the train line behind Hill 16. Saturday afternoon shoppers suffered the convenience that shadows the commuter daily as trains were delayed while the errant knight was rescued.  
The NFL may be America's game but the college version is giving it a run for its money.
This may have been a spectacle but it was also a serious sport. Every tackle, every intercept, every pass that found a runner was greeted with a roar the like of which is usually only heard when the referee blows the final whistle in an All-Ireland final. 
Anyone with dismissive attitudes towards American football would have had their prejudices seriously challenged by the on-pitch action. The first collision from the opening kick off saw the helmet of one of the Nittany Lions fly through the air, knocked from a head with the force of the impact. 
They followed Flynn's advice to the letter in Croke Park with razzle dazzle to beat Banagher but the sequins were not some frippery tacked on as a distraction. Sport and theatre collide with spectacular results in American football. The sparkle and the show are an integral part of the spectacle but there is real steel behind the stardust that was sprinkled on Dublin yesterday. 

The author had Sam Franklin kicking the winning field goal, but otherwise it was a good report.

And if you are really bored, here is an Irish message board with some locals regaling their thoughts such as these:
That's was a great game! My first time ever seeing live football, only got sucked in in the last few years. Now I reeeeeally want to see if I can get tickets to one of the Wembley games! The Penn State support was great, really cool to be in the thick of it. 
Fantastic game. Made a converted out of my brother who begrudgingly came along, moaning right up to the start about how ****e AF is. He was screaming at the pitch at the end and has just called me to find out when the next one is.. 
The Penn State head coach stayed for a little while by the tunnel to start up chants with the fans as he left the field, crazy guy  [He's a WILD and CRAZY guy!]
Just home from a thoroughly enjoyable day. Went with Penn State in all our bets, all came in, Outright win, 1st Touchdown and over 43.5. Some show, great entertainment and at least the rain stayed off. Managed to get a vid of the National anthem and the F-16's too. 
Fecking savage day. 8th game I've been to (3 college, 5 NFL) and first I've seen settled by the final play. Had the over backed too so happy out. Pity it wasn't in the Aviva, looked silly looking down on an empty hill all day, mind you, the ESPN crew did a great job of avoiding that. Jesse James is a legend, plus that WR, thing he was number 7 for Penn. Great day out. Penn state fans were a credit. Really, really great day. 
Apart from the empty stand and rip off programme, great day. Sat with some Penn State fans amongst the UCF hoarde in a great spot. Wife very pregnant and we had planned to ship a few mins before the end. Glad I didn't, what a finish! Super atmosphere, some slick game play from QB#14 and WR#7 for Penn. The Wife got right into it too but was puzzled why the game, apart from stoppages, just seem to pause quite often? When I told her it was for commercial breaks she cracked up 😁 The noise was cool, the F16s very cool, mexican wave fun and I cannot wait for the NFL reg season to K.O!!! 
Really enjoyed that yesterday. Penn State fans were great even if I was cheering for UCF. Great second half of football. Not sure what it looked like on TV but looking around, it felt quite cavernous. My mate was more interested in the gargle but I really got into it.  [Gotta love the gargle!]
Great day out - great game. First time to go to a game "in the flesh" - absolutely loved it. First two qrts I thought Penn State were gonna walk away it (despite only leading by a single score). UCF's rushing game was poor and the passing game was non-existant - only for their defence , they would have been buried. 3rd & 4th Qrt's - UCF's Qrtback remembered he could throw and the drama went up a notch. To have the game decided on the final play with 3 secs left on the clock - just brilliant (even if I was a tiny bit gutted for UCF).   Will definitely go to the next one (if/when it happens). 
Good day. One of the closest games I've seen live, score wise. Atmosphere was okay were I was sitting . Wish I had a chance to do this every week. 
Great game. Really enjoyed it, and was a bargain for e20. My seats were great. Very happy that it was close, as it was a good way to show my friends from here the sport. A blowout would have sucked. . . .A few small things about it did bother me though. The quality of the replays was shocking. I remember a big important offensive PI call happened, and I looked up to see the replay of it, but all they showed was the QB throwing the ball... Hill 16 being closed was also odd and looked awful behind the goal. That last field goal was one of the most exciting finishes to a game this weekend, and will have been all over sports highlight reels in the states last night, and the backdrop is an awful, empty terrace, which is a little embarrassing. The PA system was also terrible, especially for the ref. Could barely make out what was being said half the time. [Sounds like a "true" PSU fan--c/o replays, empty seats and the sound system!]
I have yet to read any reports of "bad" PSU fans.  And the reports from Penn Stater's sound like they were treated exceptionally well by the locals.

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