September 18, 2010

Penn State rolls to 24-0 without Evan Royster in Second Half

Devon Smith touchdown celebration

After the first two weeks of action, Penn State fans were left unsatisfied with the Nittany Lion offense and anxious to see it finally click. They did not quite get that this week.

The team scored 14 points in the first eight minutes of the game, but that is all the scoring you got to see out of the first half of the 24-0 victory.

However, with just a two score lead, the coaching staff was apparently comfortable enough that the game was out of reach, and comfortable enough to sit the team's most prominent, and under performing player, in running back Evan Royster.

"He's a senior and I think it's about time we give some of these other kids a chance to get some experience," Paterno said after the game. "When we got ahead and it looked like we were doing alright, I figured we might as well play a couple of these kids."

Call me a cynic, but a 14 point lead doesn't seem like quite enough to start benching a team's best player no matter who the opponent is.

Royster's 38 yards puts him 370 yards away from Curt Warner's Penn State career rushing record of 3,398. We all thought it was a mere formality that Royster would break this record early in the season, perhaps as early as next week against Temple.

But with just a 37 yard per game average, it may be a while before the record falls. In fact, at Royster's current pace, it won't be until the bowl game when he will become the school's all time leading rusher.

Conveniently enough, Royster was not available for comment after the game. For some reason, I doubt it was a coincidence. He's not gaining many fans by not performing, and not gaining many supporters in the media by not talking.

The team did just fine without getting much from their senior. Stephfon Green had a stellar second half for Penn State, running for 59 yards on 11 carries, and Bolden ran for 32 himself. Royster only mustered about one quarter of the team's 154 total yards, which could be cause for even more fans to start jumping on the Green and Redd bandwagons.


D'Anton Lynn intercepts Spencer Keith

It took two games, but Penn State finally got its first interception. The Lynn pick set up Bolden's offense with great field position for the first offensive drive.

Bolden 55 yard pass to Derek Moye

It was the longest pass of Rob Bolden's young career, and he hit Moye in stride on a 55 yard go route. Moye caught four passes for 87 yards, and has proven to be the most consistent offensive threat for the Lions on offense.

Bolden 48 yard TD pass to Devon Smith

Sure it was underthrown, but with a lineman in his face, Bolden had the presence to stand strong in the pocket and bomb it down field. It seems Smith's days as purely a return man are over. The coaching staff is making a concerted effort to get him on the field as a receiver, and Bolden is finding him.


The Student Section

I'm sorry. I don't care that it is a noon game. Get in your seats by the time the game starts. The junior and senior sections never filled up. It felt like a library after Bolden's third quarter interception. The total attendance barely eclipsed 100,000. Undoubtedly the smallest crowd I can remember as a student.

Bolden's Interceptions

I know he is a freshman, and mistakes come with that. But he now has one touchdown and four interceptions over the last two games. That's not a good ratio under any circumstances. Jay Paterno took the blame for the first turnover, but you could see Bolden telegraphed the second pass and tried to force it in. He continues to get better, but has to cut down on the turnovers.

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