Monday, October 15, 2007

PSU Review

For one sundrenched Saturday afternoon the 2007 Penn State football team played like we all thought they could. Now I could be a cynic and point out that this was probably and overrated Wisconsin team that was decimated by injury but I'm not going to take anything away from the men in Navy and White, they played a near perfect game. From the first snap of the football Penn State played one of the best games that I can remember in a long time. The defense was its usual stellar self but the offense was everything it should be: dynamic, accurate and at points unstoppable. A couple weeks ago in my Michigan preview I posed the question: when was the last time Penn State played a complete game and controlled an opponent from start to finish? Well, I have my answer. The most encouraging thing about Saturday was the manner in which Penn State put the game away at the start of the second half. The Nittany Lions had an opponent by the throat and instead of letting them off the hook they punched them in the gut and stepped on their necks and ended it. After the opening scoring drive Wisconsin was done, the rest of the game was just dressing.

Offense

Without a doubt the biggest surprise was efficient play of the offense. I want to find the person that kidnapped Jay Paterno and Galen Hall and thank them because the play calling was great. Penn State was never predictable and had the Wisconsin D battered, confused, and on their heels all day long. Anthony Morelli did what Penn State fans want him to do all season long – take the opportunities the defense presents and don't make dumb mistakes. The stats: 16-28 for 216 yards 1 TD and, more importantly, no turnovers. He spread the ball to five different receivers and made some clutch throws. If Morelli plays like that the rest of the way Penn State will win quite a few more games. It's funny that in the two biggest wins of Morelli's career (Tennessee and Wisconsin) he doesn't have big numbers but that's what he needs to do. Take care of the ball and make a clutch throw here and there; the team around him will take care of the rest.

I am absolutely stealing this from RUTS but it's without a doubt one of the best made up names I've come across in a long time. Run describes the two headed monster that is Penn State's running backs as Rodan Kinster. Well played young man, well played. From this point forward the Penn State backfield will be known as Rodan Kinster.

Rodan Kinster

Morelli aside, the most impressive play came along the offensive line. From my seat at Beaver stadium I could tell the line was having a good day but I didn't really realize how good until I got home and watched some of the replays. The line manhandled Wisconsin on several plays and opened up gaping holes for Rodan Kinster. On the 4th and 1 play that ended as a touchdown, Rodan wasn't even touched, the line blocked down and the pulling guard sealed off the responsible linebacker and that was it – paydirt. Sure the running backs had some good tough runs but it all started with the line and they performed their job with excellence. Rodan Kinster's numbers on the day: 184 yards and 2 TDs.

The only slightly disturbing thing on the day was the absence of Andrew Quarless. I'm not sure if it was the case of the Wisconsin defense taking him away or Penn State wanting to get Mickey Shuler more involved but we didn't see much of Andrew. Butler had his usual workmanlike day and Terrell Golden punished tacklers after the catch. Overall, it was an A+ kind of day for the offense.

Defense

Quietly the defense has played two stellar games in a row holding each opponent to one touchdown drive per game. Sean Lee and Dan Connor combined for 17 tackles (2 for loss), a sack and a fumble recovery…. before halftime. Lee posted his fifth consecutive double figure tackle game.

Maurice Evans is becoming the next great defensive lineman to play for coach Larry Johnson. Evans had three TFL with two sacks on the day. His most impressive play came on an attempted end around by Wisconsin – Maurice stayed at home and maintained contain until the play came his way at which time he shed the block and destroyed the ball carrier like a heat seeking missile. It was classic, disciplined defensive end play.

Lydell Sargeant easily had his best day as a Nittany Lion tallying 8 tackles an INT, and 2 pass breakups. At the beginning of the season I felt Sargeant was more of a liability but he has played into his position and is getting better with each game.

Overall it was a typical superb performance by the defense.

Special Teams

Kevin Kelly missed a 42 yard attempt late in the first half but he made the most important kick of the day a 30 yarder on Penn State's second possession with the game still in doubt. That stretched Penn State's lead to 10 and put a lot of pressure on Wisconsin. Of his 7 kickoffs, 4 were touchbacks and the longest return was a paltry 23 yards. Jeremy Boone only averaged 40.2 yards per kick on 4 punts but that was because two of them were inside the 20. There was nothing special about the return game: D.W. had on decent 23 yard punt return but that's about it. The special teams had a blue-collar day.

Overall

What more can be said about this game? Without a doubt it was the most complete game by a Nittany Lion team in the last decade. The only other game that I can think of that would rank up there in the dominance category would be the 2002 Nebraska game at Beaver Stadium. We can't expect play like this every week but play mistake free as Saturday and things will turn out pretty good for Penn State. Now the big question is can we have this kind of play on the road? I guess we will find out. Also, looming on the horizon is an 8:00 PM start at Beaver Stadium with the potential #1 team in the land. Happy days are here again.


3 comments:

Sir Putts-a-lot said...

I think it could be said we showed similar domination against Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2005.

PSUgirl said...

while lydel had a much better game (although the receiver was wide open for the interception play; had it not been tipped - it would have been a decent yardage gain) - Justin was a little disappointing - I realize that much of it is called zone coverage, etc - but he was giving 10 yards off the line - and getting beat in coverage - he had a couple nice tackles - but I really don't think that he is NFL ready quite yet.

On the other hand - Justin was just adorable (as was Deon) on the Penn State Story this week -

Galen said...

The Penn State Story was a good one this week and I thought I recorded it but alas, I recorded the wrong thing. *sigh*