Monday, October 22, 2007

PSU Review

Penn State managed to pull out a win Saturday thanks mainly to the fumbling fingers of Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis. Don't let the talking heads convince you otherwise this is not the cupcake Indiana team of the past - Lewis and Hardy, which sounds like a good comedy group, are no joke; they are a really good combo. But before I get to the on-the-field stuff I would like to point out a couple things that bothered me Saturday.
-Andre Ware is one of the worst color commentators in this day and age. Apparently the Worldwide Leader passed Ware and his partner a memo that had three boldface, bulleted items on it to talk about:
1) James Hardy is 6' 7" and 220 lbs. feel free to remind your views of this fact every 30 seconds. Do so even when the Indiana defense is on the field.
2) When not talking about Hardy remind your viewers of coach Terry Hoeppner's tragic death.
3) "Soft spot" is a great football term - use it to describe everything from the offensive line, the defense, or Pam Ward's head.
- and one more note – feel free to talk whimsically about things completely unrelated to football even if it causes you to miss an entire series, our viewers like that.

-The Big Ten officials are six shades of awful. I'm saying that after a win so you don't think I'm blaming them for a loss. The signature call of the game occurred in the fourth quarter on 4th and 6 on Penn State's 13 yard line. Lewis completed a pass to James Bailey right at the sticks but Bailey was tackled and pushed back and out of bounds. Blind official A spots the ball a yard and a half short and signals first down Penn State. Blind official B walks over to Blind official A, says no, no and proceeds to remark the ball just at the first down marker and signals first down Indiana. No measuring, and more importantly NO REPLAY! Replay is supposed to be there to make sure important plays are called correctly. I can't think of a more important call than a spot of a 4th down in the 4th quarter of a football game (spot of the ball is a reviewable play by the way). If replay isn't going to be used then throw it out and let the morons screw games up like old times. Now that I got all that off my chest on to the game.


Offense


There's good and bad on the offensive side of the ball. Penn State was gift wrapped two opportunities by the defense via turnovers but only managed two field goals. If PSU puts either of those two in it would have been the knockout punch but they let Indiana hang around and it almost came back to bite them. Morelli threw another boneheaded interception but fortunately it was in the end zone so there was no harm other than giving the ball to Indiana. Anthony still manages to force throws every now and then and it usually doesn't turn out well for him. Matt Hahn had a great game until injuring himself on a run and is done for the season. It always sucks when a player's career is ended by injury. Hahn was a much underrated player that will be missed.


Now the good – at the beginning of the season we had a lot of questions about the offensive line and they started out slowly in the first couple games. Many thought they would end up a liability by the end of the year but they have really come together. Indiana led the NCAA in sacks but managed only two against this offensive line, that's impressive. The line has gone from liability to brick wall in the course of two games. They are the Techno Viking of the offense.

Offensive line = Techno Viking, all hail Techno Viking!


When not throwing bonehead interceptions, Anthony Morelli looked good. He completed 22 of 32 attempts for 195 yards with 2 touchdowns and often completed difficult throws on third down. He threw a couple darts that were things of beauty. If the offensive line keeps giving him time Morelli can do some damage.


Evan Royster is becoming a really good back when he doesn't fumble. Right now he is the better of the two backs playing for PSU, unfortunately he has that "young" label that keeps him from starting. He averaged almost 6 yards per carry compared to Kinlaw's 3.


The wide receivers were not spectacular in any way but as a group had a great day Saturday. Jordan Norwood continues to be the sure-handed possession receiver Morelli needs and Butler manages a great catch or two per game. I can't think of any throw that was dropped by any of the receivers on the day. Even Chris Bell made an appearance.


Defense


Justin King is probably painting on fake eyebrows as we speak because he was torched all game long by James Hardy who is 6' 7" and 220 lbs by the way. It's understandable that when you put King on the opponent's best receiver alone every game he's going to get beat every once in a while but what I don't understand is why the coaches didn't give him help later in the game. It was obvious he was having issues yet they let him flounder. Great corners have short memories and I think Justin will bounce back this week there's no need to worry… yet. Ohio State doesn't have a James Hardy and the matchup will be a little more favorable for King.

Justin King pictured here leaving after the game

While the defense had a bad game defending the pass they completely shut down the running game. The defensive line was great and we should all praise Maurice Evans – it's his world we're just renting space in it. Evans caused two fumbles one which he recovered and ran (with one shoe no less) to the Indiana 13. Maurice also had 4.5 tackles for loss with 3.5 sacks and a pass breakup. Teams will have to start doubling him on obvious passing downs or he will burn them.


Special Teams


What more can you say about Jeremy Boone? 45 yard average per punt and launched one over Tracy Porter's head who mistakenly tried to return it only to have it slip threw his outstretched fingers and into the hands of A.J. Wallace. Kevin Kelly made all three of his field goals and managed six touchbacks on kickoffs. He did miss the first extra point attempt but that happens every once in a great while. The return game was nothing to write home about.


Overall


We all knew there would be a game that the defense played poorly and the offense would have to win and that game was Saturday. The play calling on the offensive side of the ball continues to be more aggressive which is a good sign. The offensive line will have a bigger test this week but if they continue to play at the level they've played the last two games the offense will put some points on the board. The defense had an off day basically because of the King-Hardy matchup and I believe they will rebound this week. Now Penn State gets to welcome the #1 team in the country for an 8:00 start at the Beav. It's gonna be fun, I hope my liver can handle it.

4 comments:

BillyBob said...

Just one question:

What are the numbers on James Hardy? He looked really big out there.

Nick said...

What bothers me about this game is if the offense finished the job on those turnovers, back-ups see more time and Hahn might not be in there to get hurt, Odrick either.

Galen said...

billybob

6'7" & 220 lbs.

ESPN forgot to mention.

BillyBob said...

Thanks for the info. You guys think he might be playing on Sundays soon?

I'm still confused as to whether PSU is really any good yet. I keep seeing flashes of potential greatness from one unit or another, but almost never the whole package, and in the case of Wisconsin their run first offense and soft d seemed designed for us to destroy them like we did.

Anyway, I don't know whether to be optimistic about the OSU game or not. I guess I'm hoping that everyone will put in a good effort at the same time for a change, and that the crowd will be a huge factor, but I fear that if I get too caught up in the optimism it'll be a 5 turnover day. Such is life as a fan.