On Penn State's opening possession Daryll Clark hit Graham Zug over the middle for what would have been an easy PSU score, unfortunately Zug dropped it. That would pretty much set the tone for Penn State the rest of the way. PSU forgot to turn their clocks back, didn't show up until sometime in the second half and let Northwestern march up and down the field by throwing short passes over the middle to a very, very soft zone as the Bend and then Break Our Hearts defense reared its ugly head yet again. Like always the coaches took the stubborn roll and tried to mash Evan Royster time and time again on offense and played extremely soft zone on defense and although neither was A) a good game plan to start or B) actually worked during the game, they stuck to their guns like the stubborn coaches that they are and the game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter.
When the offensive brain trust finally let Clark throw the ball, like he should have been all game, Penn State took a fourth quarter 13-13 tie and scored three unanswered TD's to run away with it. Not only did the passing help the offense altogether but it loosened up the D and Royster ripped off a 69 yard TD run. Clark threw for 274 yards and a touchdown but his receivers (I'm looking in your direction Zug) dropped several good passes. Derek Moye continues his hot hand leading all receivers with 6 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Moye gets better every game. 11 different receivers caught passes as Clark spread the ball around. Had the coaches decided to open things up from the beginning, the game probably wouldn't have been close.
The aforementioned Zug dropped several passes that hit him in the numbers. Had I been the coach he wouldn't have saw the light of day after the first series until garbage time late in the fourth. Inexcusable.
It's hard to actually blame the players for the horrible defense, they played hard and can only play in the God-awful system the coaches put them in. From what I can tell, the defensive game plan was: let them throw for 8 or 10 yards over the middle over, and over, and over, and over, and over. Hopefully they'll just make a LOT of mistakes. Great plan, worked to perfection. Penn State gave up 371 yards of offense with 252 of that through the air. In comparison, Penn State is the best team in the league against the pass giving up only 170 yards through the air and 255ish total. But when you're put in a terrible defensive scheme against a team that can throw well, you get what you saw Saturday.
Luckily in the second half when they finally realized they weren't going to get pressure with only their down four they started to blitz more and that's when the D shut the Wildcats out.
Individually, Sean Lee returned to old form leading the team with 12 tackles. Navorro Bowman was all over the field again and 9 different players were in on tackles for loss and six sacks.
At this point the punt return team's goal should be A) fair catch the ball and B) don't allow a fake for a first down. Oh, and don't get a stupid penalty to give the ball back either… like they did Saturday. It was easily the worst special team's effort all season and if they continue, they will lose a game for the Nittany Lions.
Jeremy Boone averaged 42 yards per punt but launched two into the endzone. That could have been a product of the swirling winds at Northwestern and not so much bad punts. Collin Wagner did salvage two drives and nailed the two easy field goals he attempted. As long as Wagner can convert the 30-something yard tries everything will be fine.
Penn State wasn't ready to play but still managed to cover the 17 point spread with the offensive explosion in the 4th. I'll take that against jNW but that game plan is horrible against j(ust)aOSU. If Penn State lets Terrelle Pryor sit back with time he will pick them apart, as bad of a passer that he is, you can't let Pryor have time. Penn State needs to pressure him into mistakes because he makes a boat load of them. The lack of containing the QB is also quite disturbing. While jNW had decent running QB's none of them even come close to comparing to Pryor's ability to run. PSU will probably need a spy against jaOSU.