Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Last Friday my cable internet went down and I wasn't able to get someone in until yesterday… and I had to take half a day off work… and it was the cable company's fault (they put an RF trap on my line probably because they thought I was stealing cable and it shut down my internet). Thanks Comcast, you guys are comcastic! By the way, I'm not stealing cable if that thought crossed your mind. So that meant I had no source for stats and pictures and whatnot so I was in the dark but I did get a chance to watch the game again yesterday while waiting from 1pm to 3pm for the service guy (yes he came at 10 till 3, thanks again Comcast!). Really the Ohio State game simply came down to Terrelle Pryor.
Ohio State's defense did a really good job of disrupting the Spread HD's timing by bringing a lot of pressure early on. The offensive line did a poor job of blocking in the first half but rebounded nicely in the second and particularly in the 4th quarter. Daryll Clark had a bad day; if you take away the Graham Zug 50 yarder he throws for only 72 yards. Part of that can be blamed on the pressure he had to avoid but part of the blame can be placed on Clark, he made some bad throws a couple of which should have been intercepted. Clark did a good job running the ball getting almost 5 yards a clip and some important first downs. Evan Royster had a below average day rushing for only 77 yards but he turned it on late in the game to mount the go-ahead scoring drive.
The real disappointment for me was the play of the wide receivers, not so much in the passing game but more so in the running game. Deon Butler had a dreadful day blocking and on two occasions had he made his block the play would have turned into a big game but instead, in both instances, the play resulted in a loss. Butler wasn't the only receiver with blocking difficulties, on one occasion they lined Derrick Williams in the backfield in their version of a power I and ran with him lead blocking and he completely whiffed on his block and his guy made the tackle. Penn State relies heavily on their wide receivers ability to block downfield and it wasn't there against Ohio State. This is one of the reasons Royster's five yard runs weren't going for ten or fifteen yards. I'm not worried though, I think this was more of an aberration than a trend and I'm sure they'll bounce back next week against Iowa.
Absolute lights out. Great game in every aspect of the defense. The coaches came in with the game plan to make Terrelle Pryor beat them with his arm and it worked to perfection. Sure Pryor had his best statistical day passing (226 yards) but in the end his two mistakes, a fumble and horrible interception to end the game, were the difference. The coaches walked Mark Rubin up from his safety spot to basically a fourth linebacker position on nearly every play making it a bastardized 4-4 and it was a thing of beauty. While Rubin isn't the best cover safety he supports the run well and his alignment let him crash the line and stop the run and shadow Pryor when he was flushed out of the pocket. How good did it work? It got Mark Big Ten Defensive Player of the week honors. He led the team with 11 tackles and the crucial forced fumble on third and 1 that turned into the game changing play.
Navorro Bowman also had a huge day with 10 tackles, 1 for a loss and he was the guy that recovered the aforementioned fumble. Bowman gets better every game and teams will start scheming against him because he just blows plays up. The thought of him and Sean Lee together on the same field gives me chills.
Ohio State offensive right tackle Bryant Browning probably had nightmares when he went to bed Saturday night because of Aaron Maybin. Maybin blew by him so fast on the only sack of the game for Penn State that he barely got a hand on him. Maybin was causing headaches all game long especially on known passing plays. The entire defensive line did a great job keeping Pryor in the pocket and getting pressure without the need of a blitz.
With the lone exception of Kelly's 45 yard miss the special teams did a great job. Kelly only had one touchback but it was at the most opportune time – to start off OSU's last drive of the game. Three of Jeremy Boone's four punts landed inside the 20 and only one went for a touchback. Penn State was doing a good job of winning the field position battle, or at least making it a stalemate. Lamaar Thomas did have a 37 yard kickoff return but other than that the coverage teams were great.
Terrelle Pryor may someday be a great quarterback he's just not one now. He can run and is a great athlete but his ability to read a defense sucks. Kirk Herbstreit was saying all night long that if Pryor's first read isn't there he tucks and runs and I couldn't agree more. There were a couple plays that Pryor had guys running down field wide open and he didn't see them. He also has a bad tendency to float his passes and it hurt him on the INT. Penn State came in with the plan to make him beat them with his arm and he couldn't.
Now PSU gets a week off to rest and get ready for Iowa. Some morons are predicting that Penn State is going to run the table and that is dangerous thinking. The popular notion right now is that Michigan State is Penn State's toughest opponent left and I've been saying this for about a month now, that's not true, Iowa is. Iowa has a great defense and the best back in the Big Ten (yes I said that). Shonn Greene is very tough and if Penn State isn't ready for him they're going to lose. Iowa is much better than their 5-3 record shows, they lost three heartbreakers and could very easily be undefeated right now. You'll see how good they are when they beat Juice Williams and Illinois this week. They are getting better each week and just got done dismantling Wisconsin 38-16. Be very afraid.