October 23, 2010

Backups step in to keep Penn State alive, beat Minnesota 33-21

Brett Bracket was on the receiving end of Rob Bolden's
only touchdown pass. Bolden would leave the game
with an apparent minor head injury.
(AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
The final score looked better than the product on the field, as Penn State rode the backs of third-stringers, namely quarterback Matt McGloin and tailback Silas Redd, to a 33-14 win over Minnesota today in TCF Bank Stadium.

McGloin was in for the injured starter Rob Bolden, while second-string quarterback Kevin Newsome has been battling illness and injury all week. And although Evan Royster finished today's game only 31 yards short of Penn State's career rushing record (63 yards rushing today), it was true freshman Silas Redd that dazzled fans in the second half, ripping off several big runs, including two for more than 20 yards on the final touchdown drive for the Nittany Lions.

The defense, however, left much to be desired, surrendering more than 300 yards to Minnesota's Adam Weber, and allowing yet another 100-yard rusher, the Gophers' DeLeon Eskridge. Cornerback Stephon Morris was the main target of fans. The sophomore was harassed all day by Weber, including two of the Gophers' touchdown passes, and was very unreliable on open-field tackling.

But he wasn't alone. The Penn State defense as a whole seemed to regress a bit this week, if that's even possible after the horrendous performance against Illinois two weeks ago. Today fans were treated to more missed tackles, poor angles, and a terribly weak pass rush. in the early returns from this game, the only players to have positive standout performances were the defensive tackles Devon Still, who recorded the only Penn State sack that went for a safety, Ollie Ogbu, and backup safety/nickel-back Malcolm Willis.

The Penn State offense turned into a tale of two halves. Opening the game, Bolden completed around 80 percent of his throws for more than 100 yards, tossing a touchdown to Brett Brackett for the Lions' first score. But the ground game was non-existent. Going up against a Gophers run defense that ranked dead last in the Big Ten coming into the game, Penn State couldn't do much with Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, or the fullbacks.

Following Bolden's injury, and a D'Anton Lynn interception return from the end zone that put Penn State in great field position, former walk-on McGloin heaved a long ball to Derek Moye for a 42-yard touchdown. Moye would finish the game with two big touchdown receptions from McGloin. While McGloin played well, not great, the rest of the game, Penn State's offensive line opening up some decent running lanes (keep that in perspective here) for Royster, who had some very good gains in the late first half and through the second half.

But you can't talk about Penn State's rushing performance today without mentioning Redd, the much ballyhooed star out of Connecticut. Redd tore off two consecutive 20-yard runs, consistently breaking tackles through the final two quarters. What impressed fans (me, at least) the most was his ability to "play fast," by hitting the whole, or recognizing where the defenders are early and making a quick decision to get out of trouble.

Penn State didn't have a dominant performance today. The Gophers actually finished with more yards than Penn State (about a 400/330 split), but couldn't put points on the board when it mattered most. The victory was No. 398 for Joe Paterno, who sounded tired after the game. But that's all we'll say about Paterno here.

The internet is most likely ablaze with rage and frustration because of Penn State's less-than-impressive win over Minnesota. But with the top two quarterbacks out, an offensive line still unreliable, an injury-riddle defense, and withering fan support [*ah-hem!*], the Nittany Lions did a hell of a job today getting their first Big Ten win for 2010.

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  1. I'm a little surprised at the 'rage and frustration'. After the Illinois game - I was a little worried this would be a really embarrassing loss. I'll be proud of this team if it can beat either Michigan or NW and get bowl-eligible. With all the injuries, I think the team is showing a lot of heart and fire.

  2. @Smente - I like your attitude towards this year's team. Fans have been increasingly resistant to the "They' so young" excuse... but it's TRUE.

  3. They are soo young?

    Give me a break!

    Weak team, very little quality depth and poor coaching, at least 3 more L's this year!

    Minnesota is horrible and PSU is not far behind.

  4. @Joe - Woah, what a bold statement! "at least 3 more L's this year" Did you have to get a calculator out for that one? So the hell what if Penn State loses to Michigan/Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan State? The simple idea that you flat-out reject youth as a valid reason for this team's shortcomings in 2010 is comical, if not plain sad.

    Weak team? Yeah, it's called 15 injured players so far this season, and playing/starting more true freshmen.

    Little quality depth? Uhh, see above.

    Poor coaching? Ahhh, my favorite cop-out of all. So Urban Meyer should get fired? How about Mack Brown? Both those teams are 4-3 as well, and lost to opponents equal to Penn State's.