Monday, October 06, 2008

PSU Review: Purdue

TNL said: 56-35 (PSU)
Actual Score: 20–6 (PSU)

Yikes, I was way off the score this time around like I said; I was hitting them with regularity so I was due to be completely wrong eventually. I made two failed assumptions: 1) Penn State's defense is a better than I gave them credit for and 2) I didn't think Paterno and company would go into their conservative 'offense on the road' shell which they did. So there were a lot fewer points scored than I thought there would be.


Penn State played its usual slow start, conservative play calling, road game plan. It didn't help that players had a very difficult time with footing and that was never addressed by the equipment managers. Early in the first Royster slipped on a 3rd and 1 run that would have easily been a first down had he not lost his footing. In fact the Lions failed twice on 3rd and 1's early in the game which is part of the reason why they went in at halftime with only a 10-0 lead. But they did go up 17-0 on an Evan Royster 4-yard touchdown run midway through the 3rd and held on for the 20-6 win.

The offensive player of the game would have to be Royster and his 143 yards on 18 carries.

He also caught 4 balls for 53 yards to lead the team in receiving yardage as well. Even with Purdue bringing heat to try and slow down the running game, Royster still managed to run at a 7.8 yards-per-attempt pace. While the offensive line did its usual stellar job of blocking a lot of praise should be heaped on fullback Dan Lawlor who had a great day lead blocking for the Penn State running backs. Lawlor doesn't get much attention or praise but he's always picking off the last man allowing the backs to get to the second level untouched. Dan has grown into a great lead-blocking fullback.

Miscellaneous tidbits from the game:

  • Daryll Clark had a decent game statistically speaking but he continues to throw high when he's off but he's still a great game manager and makes great decisions.
  • Early in the third quarter, Penn State drove to the Purdue 37 and was facing a 4th and four. In typical Paterno conservative play calling style they punted. Jeremy Boone proceeded to nail the ball to the endzone for a touchback. It was a stupid call at one of the most inopportune times, Penn State was only up by 10 and their defense was playing particularly well. The 17 yards they gained on the punt did nothing but a first down on a manageable 4th and 4 would have been a great shot in the arm but no it's Penn State and we're on the road let's not take any chances. Dumb.
  • If Penn State goes to Wisconsin with this type of game plan in mind they will lose, plain and simple. The Nittany Lions will not be able to bludgeon the Badgers like they did to the Boilermakers.


Ok we must give credit where credit is due: Josh Hull had the best game of his career and he played great. While Hull chipped in 11 solo tackles they weren't the 5 yard down field types of tackles, he had 2 TFL and was meeting running back Kory Sheets at the point of attack. Hull took a lot of criticism last week (myself included) and he responded with a stellar performance against a good running back and proved a lot of doubters wrong (myself included). If he continues to play at that level the defense will be fine.

What more can be said about this defensive line, they continue to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Unlike the PSU offense that has yet to face a decent defense, the PSU defense has faced some very good offenses in Illinois and Purdue and has basically shut them down. Penn State out gained Purdue 422 to 241. Drew Astorino continues to get better and better snagging the teams' only interception late in the 3rd quarter.

Special Teams

Kevin Kelly continues his rock-steady performance this year as he nailed a 25 yarder at the end of the first half and converted a 20-yarder to put Penn State up by three scores late in the game after the Astorino interception. Of his four kickoffs one landed in the endzone for a touchback but Purdue's longest return was 21 yards and they have a pretty dangerous return game. Jeremy Boone didn't have such a great day, he only averaged 36.5 yards per punt and he booted two into the endzone. Still, I'm not too concerned about Boone he hasn't been needed much this season and he'll bounce back next week. The return game was average and the kick coverage was good, the only complaint I have is Derrick Williams fair caught a punt when he clearly had plenty of room to return it, but as I've said before, the punt returners #1 job is to catch the ball and get it into the hands of the offense.


It's a 14 point win over a Big Ten school on the road, I'll take it. This gives "experts" plenty of room to criticize Penn State given they didn't blow Purdue out but you simply can't destroy every team every week you're bound to have an off week every now and then. I'm beginning to rethink my assessment of the defense, they really impressed me against a good Purdue offense and basically held a very good running back to 3.3 yards per carry and almost half of the yardage he averages. Penn State now gets a Badger team that has lost two straight and given up 47 points in those games, the Lions may just be getting Wisconsin at the right time.

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