November 15, 2010

LBU Staff Reactions: Ohio State 38, Penn State 14

Our thoughts on Penn State's "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" impression this weekend.


For a half Penn State played probably it’s most complete game. The offensive line was blocking the defense was playing inspired and the receivers were causing fits for the Buckeye secondary. Then everything came crashing down. The thing that disappointed me the most in this game was the complete change in coaching philosophy from one half to the next. In the first half the offense was throwing on first down and the coaches were mixing in screen passes at the right time and the OSU defense was on their heels.

The defense was actually doing that thing they call blitzing in other parts of the college football world and (amazingly) it was working. Then Ohio State scored; the defense went back to the cover 2 that hasn’t worked all season and Jay Paterno started calling the “mash the running back into the middle of the line twice and throw a desperation 3rd and long pass” offense that I so love. Everything Penn State did in the first half was thrown out the door and the result was 35 unanswered points. I don’t know who the next Penn State head coach will be and I don’t really care but I most certainly want Mr. Jay Paterno to be seeking employment opportunities outside the Pennsylvania State University.


Penn State played two football half-games, 20 minutes apart. There is no other way to describe what we watched Saturday evening. Penn State came out aggressive, confident, and totally shocked the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions punched Ohio State right in the throat, jumping out to that 14-3 lead. Joe Paterno gave the "OK" on two fourth-and-short attempts, which Penn State converted. It was all going splendidly.

But then came the third fourth-and-short attempt of the day. Many--I'm not one of them--will say Paterno should have just kicked it, taking a 14-point lead. I disagree. It was the right call; Ohio State just made a good stop. Had Penn State converted, the headlines would have praised a newly-daring Paterno, finally opening up the offense on the road for a massive victory. But Silas Redd was stopped, and all the armchair quarterbacks went nuts. I'm surprised the internet is still working today.

Looking at the second half, this is obviously a very young team. Say what you want about the juniors on the team. But remember, there were a ton of juniors on the 2004 squad. How did that team do in 2005? Looking at the first half, Penn State showed just what it may be able to do in 2011. Frustrating, yes. Promising, absolutely.


Late in the first half, I received a text message from Mike, reminding me to keep my reaction piece in mind for Monday. My response?

"Ok, I will give a post-riot reaction."

You know what happens when you assume....

So Penn State was not able to hold onto a 14-3 halftime lead. Could it have been 17-3? Absolutely. But I do not fault Joe for going for it on fourth down. That would have put Penn State up three scores going into break. I think the obvious scapegoat for the second half melt down was the play calling. As surprisingly aggressive as the offense was in the first half, it was equally vanilla in the second. Penn State refused to throw the ball on first OR second down after half time, and were seemingly unable to move the ball at all. Throw in the fact that the Penn State defense allowed the Buckeyes to average 7.3 yards per carry, and that was the difference in the second half.

Oh by the way, was I the only one that got flashbacks to the Malcolm Jenkins pick six in 2007?

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  1. This team has more losers on it than the Boston Marathon!

    Great game!

  2. Galen,
    Penn State passed on first down 37.5% of the time in the first half. In the second half the Lions passed on first down 50% of the time. There was only 1 fewer first down pass attempt in the second half. Maybe the problem was that Penn State completed 4 of 6 first down pass tries in the first half and went 0 for 5 on first down passes in the second half. The coaching philosophy didn't seem to change as much as the effectiveness of the attempts.

  3. Welcome back, Joe! Glad to see you're adding so much to the conversation, as usual!

  4. Jonathan Coker11/16/2010 12:07 AM

    Bottom line is we performed well and play perfect football in the first half. Second half, not so much. We can look at this and try to learn from our mistakes.

  5. Clark

    The offensive game plan did not change too much, McGloin and the offensive coaches did not adjust to the changes in coverage. The Buckeye defense got more agressive and McGloin misread the first int and really sailed on the second. The biggest difference in the second half was the defense, that became very conservative in the second half. Without Mauti, this is a totally different defense, very tentative and unable to tackle. It reminds me of the Colts defense without Bob Sanders.

  6. scott & SGTTruth,

    When Ohio State scored to make it 14-10 the play calling went like this:
    -Royster up middle 3 yards
    -Redd draw up middle 17 yards first down
    -Redd up middle 1 yard
    -Pass intercepted
    When Penn State got the ball back:
    -Redd up the middle 1 yard
    -Redd draw up the middle loss of 3
    -incomplete pass
    Score is now 17-14
    -Suhey (THE FULLBACK FOR CHRIST'S SAKE) up the middle 2 yards
    -Redd over right tackle (ooohhh we're getting tricky) 2 yards
    -incomplete pass

    How is that ANYTHING like the first half?!?!? It's not, it's super conservative and you see the result. It's very very shitty play calling and it's why Penn State loses. At least give your guys a chance.

  7. It changed when McGloin threw his first pick 6. By the standards they used the week before he should have been yoinked then. I agree the play calling wasn't that great in the 2nd half. It looked like the staff thought Bolden was in the game the way they were calling plays. Against OSU zone D we should have been running those bubbles screens we ran so well with Williams and Norwood and calling pass plays that flood the zones.

    What happened to Mauti? I heard he got hurt and this killed the defense? Anyone?