Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where do we go from here?

Monday's finally over now and I can stop answering questions about Penn State from my coworkers. Honestly, when PSU loses I should just set aside vacation days so I don't have to deal with all the idle chatter from people that know what a football looks like and not much else. It's painful sometimes.

If anything, the Iowa game proved what many of us feared: Penn State was a fraud as a top 10 team.

The Good

Considering the offense and special teams gave up 9 points the defense has to be commended for their efforts. When Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman are finally healthy once again this unit will keep Penn State in just about any Big Ten game for the simple fact that no team in the Big Ten has the offensive firepower (read good passing game) to overpower the Lions.

The Bad

The coaches have not found the right combo on the line yet and that's scary. Hell Penn State's best offensive lineman (supposedly) even looked horrible Saturday. This coaching staff had, what amounts to, three scrimmages and they are not any closer to having five competent lineman. Unless something changes very quickly there are going to be a lot of growing pains for the rest of the season.

The Ugly

Special teams are just absolutely unbearable (with the noted exception of Jeremy Boone). Penn State doesn't have a kicker that can make a field goal or get it deep enough to cover. Oh and we don't cover either. Or block. On punts and returns. The coaches might want to fix that… like soon.

Speaking of coaching, does anyone notice that teams like to… kinda… sorta… blitz a little bit? Our offensive line can't block straight up without a blitz but when teams come with extra men it's OMG!! CHINESE FIRE DRILL!!!!1!1! in the backfield. Now I know I'm no coach but anyone want to bet me that every single Big Ten team will blitz every extra man available until Penn State proves they can handle it? There has been no adjustment at all by the players or coaches to slow the blitz down. A well timed* screen would go a long way to make teams think twice about bringing the heat every down but that hasn't happened.

Expectations, what expectations?

Clearly with the loses coming into the season, especially on the offensive line, no one had serious expectations of an undefeated season. Having said that, when you looked at the schedule you couldn't come up with a sure-fire "L" anywhere. So yeah, the optimist had to think that Penn State could win any game on the schedule but we knew in the back of our minds that, while possible, it wasn't probable. The disheartening thing about this is, as Nick points out, this offense suffers from collective narcolepsy and has underachieved in just about every game. Blame who you want but that falls on coaching, this team has yet come to play and considering the energy and passion from a Whiteout, that's scary.

Not to harp on the schedule but it bears repeating again, and I've been saying this from the beginning (I'll also love when I can point out when I'm right because that happens so little these days).

But again, Dave misses (or chooses to ignore) the most important thing about Penn State's shitty schedule: playing crappy teams doesn't get you ready to play the good teams on your schedule… Do you think any of those three teams will have the skill position players that Iowa has? We will have no idea how good Penn State is until the play Iowa, let's just hope we don't set ourselves up for a huge letdown.

So yeah, kinda nailed that one and not to toot my own horn but toot, toot.

With three straight cupcake games against Akron, Temple and Syracuse, the Lions were subject to subpar competition that did not provide them the necessary experience needed for a confrontation with a strong Big Ten foe.


No one knew what to expect from the Penn State team which began its 2009 Big Ten Conference schedule Saturday night at soggy Beaver Stadium against Iowa. Not after ho-hum tune-ups against Akron, Syracuse and Temple, three programs that barely crack Division I-A's top 100.

What we now know, however, is that the Nittany Lions' Top 5 rankings were mere illusions, and that those three games did absolutely nothing to prepare the Nittany Lions for the meat of the schedule.

The powers that be can talk all about funding the athletic department, 8 home games… blah, blah, blah but it does the team a great disservice to play terrible competition. Moreover, if you want to treat it like an economics problem then by all means let's do that. I'm a consumer and you're selling a product, a premium product that I have to pay top dollar for. I pity the people that shelled out 55 bucks to stand in the rain for several hours tailgating then sit in the rain for 3 ½ hours watching this mess of a team. I really pity someone that paid 220 bucks (to this point) for season tickets to watch the team sleepwalk through three cupcakes and then shit their pants against the first good team they played. Premium product my ass. The problem is Penn State subscribes to the Pittsburgh Pirates business model: as long as they can turn a profit the product placed on the field doesn't matter at all. In Pittsburgh's case, they get enough fans in to turn the profit by not paying their players and in PSU's case they know that for every season ticket holder that drops out there are three waiting in the wings. Why go out of your way to schedule good teams when no one demands that they do?

Trying to predict how the rest of the season unfolds is an act of utter futility because we just don't know where this team is going from here. Again the Big Ten is so down right now it's hard to predict certain loses. Ohio State will most definitely be a loss, but what about the rest? Illinois will get it all together one of these days but they are in utter chaos right now [HT: BSD].

"It's like a nightmare," [QB Juice] Williams said of the offensive woes. "A nightmare from which you can't wake up."

Preseason dark horse Michigan State has yet to find a quarterback and a defense for that matter, Michigan is barely winning with offense and Northwestern and Minnesota are well… Northwestern and Minnesota. Penn State could go anywhere from pushing for the Big Ten title to 4th or 5th, it's just a crap shoot at this point.

The one positive thing to come out of this week around the Big Ten is that there are no more serious undefeated teams in the Big Ten and the conference will be largely ignored until the end of the season. This is a good thing from the perspective that for the first year in a long time the Big Ten won't get a second BCS team and will get better matchups in the bowl games. Big Ten hate will subside now that the two highly ranked teams have fallen and the conference as a whole will remain an afterthought.

*third and long is not "well timed" we need one of the jailbreak screens that puts our running backs behind 3 or 4 road graders with only some scared secondary in the path to pay dirt.


Paterno Lives! said...

I really like "road graders," I need to start using that more.

Galen said...

I actually chuckled when I wrote that. I was thinking "more like Tonka Toys than road graders."

M1EK said...

To play Devil's Advocate, it's possible that the OL is actually bad enough that playing a moderately sucky team early on would have just resulted in an even earlier crushing reality check, rather than actually making us any better for Iowa.

I am surprised they're this bad, frankly. This OL is worse than during the Dark Years.

Galen said...

I think an earlier reality check would have, at least, made the coaches think long and hard about making changes which they have this week, instead of sticking it out with guys that were getting blown away.