Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Win Is A Win. But Have We Improved?

It's good to see Penn State win handily against Syracuse, but Terry was very unhappy with how we won. "We're lousy!", he kept yelling to me in the stands. Even when we were up by 28 points.

What bothered Terry more than anything else was the fact that we couldn't score a touchdown from the one-yard line. He would have preferred that we take a field goal on that drive as well. "When you have the chance, take the points!," he yelled.

I think we expected improvement over last week's game. And improvement, especially in the running game, was hard to discern. We were limited to 78 yards rushing, and achieved 240 yards passing. We were ahead by only 14 points at the half. We weren't comfortable with a win until well into the 4th quarter.

On the other hand, we sort of expected a tougher game. So a 28-7 win isn't bad. Our defense basically shut down Syracuse, and created a couple of turnovers. They put the needed pressure on Greg Paulus, Syracuse's quarterback, and Ryan Nassib, his backup. The defense held the Syracuse offense to 200 yards total, and only 13 first downs. Syracuse achieved only 65 yards rushing.

So...what's the problem? A win's a win, right? I'm not sure I'm as dissatisfied as Terry is. I see the game as more of a defensive battle in that we controlled Syracuse effectively. But I'm concerned about the ground game and the inconsistent offensive line, despite the fact that we scored four touchdowns.

What do you think?

P.S. Two Syracuse fans in front of us disguised themselves in Penn State gear. Evidently they were afraid to show up in orange for fear of being harassed. But they showed their true colors on one of Paulus's completions. We had a good time teasing them after that, in a good-natured way. They really didn't have anything to worry about, at least in our section of the stands!

The "Classic Day" was fun for those who participated, and the music was great. Most fans seemed "unconscious and unaware" that such a theme day was declared until they arrived at the stadium. The weather forecast didn't help the theme day, although fortunately there was no real rain - just a bit of drizzle - during the game.


  1. Although Ohio State lost to USC, I think the fact that they controlled the whole game helps the Big Ten. I heard Herbstreit say that this proves that they can hang with the "big boys" as if they weren't a big program already.
    Many saw Notre Dame as being a potential BCS-bowl team (and they still could get there). Michigan's win absolutely boosts the status of the Big Ten.
    The Michigan State loss of course was a disappointment but Central Michigan is a tough opponent. They have a senior quarterback in Dan LeFevour who is the MAC's all-leader in total offense and will probably be playing on Sundays.
    The double overtime win for wisconsin struck some people as a shock but maybe they forget that Fresno State is usually a pretty good mid-major team. There have been numerous times in the last decade where Fresno has been in the top 25 including a 4-4 bowl record since 2000.
    Iowa's dominance over in-state rival Iowa State shows that last week's near defeat was a fluke.
    As for Penn State, I am very concerned with the lack of a running game. Clark once again looked Heisman-esque throwing for 240 and 3 touchdowns. I think maybe once we get into the big ten schedule and Clark starts to use his legs as well maybe the attention will shift mainly to Clark and the receivers and open up some holes for Royster to exploit. However, it would be much more comforting if Royster could gain 100 yards rushing this week so he can gain some confidence entering the big ten schedule.

  2. Good perceptions as usual, Nathan. You obviously follow not only Penn State but college football in general. I think one of the reasons Clark is not running the football, by the way, is that the back up quarterbacks don't have enough experience. The priority is to ensure that Clark doesn't get injured, and there's more risk of injury if he takes off on a run. Hopefully our backup quarterbacks will get some more game experience against Temple and that might help to open up quarterback options.

    Agree with you about Royster. But it's up to this young offensive line to get better to open up some opportunities for him and other running backs. We'll see if the running game improves against Temple!

  3. I agree that the back-ups don't have much experience and that does play a factor in hesitation to allow Clark to run. But whether they gain some experience this week or not I think that Clark has got to run when it is necessary or to show a defense that he is multi-dimensional. I think his legs are key to us winning some close games in the big ten this year. Although the risk factor of injury is higher, I think he needs to run a few Qb draws a game just to give something for other teams to prepare for. If teams worry about clark running they will load guys out wide leaving space in the middle for the run game to develop. I just really think we will need Clark to run this year as well.

  4. Agree. But remember that Clark was our quarterback last year. So the Big Ten teams we play already know he can run, and they can prepare for that. They can look at every tape of every game he's played since he's been quarterback.

  5. True. Preparation does give you an idea of what to expect. But preparation or no preparation it's next to impossible to stop a QB who is good at passing and running. You would be very hard-pressed to find a defensive scheme that can stop both at the same time. So unless teams guess right at what he will do then their chances aren't good at stopping him.

    The age of the pocket passer is fading away. Most teams are going for the dual-threat quarterback because they are so hard to stop and give the offense many ways to attack a defense. I think the Galen Hall should call a few QB draws just to get Clark in the groove of running before we enter big ten play.

  6. Good points. Personally, what I would like to see is a lot of playing time for Newsome. I'm hoping that there will be enough of a blowout so that there's at least an entire quarter when Newsome has a chance to get some experience. That will help Clark be more versatile. If history is a guide, the last time there was a really close game against Temple was 1985. Oddly enough, Penn State contended for the national championship that year, but beat Temple by only two points.