November 22, 2010

Review: Penn State 41, Indiana 24

Penn State guaranteed itself a .500 finish in the Big Ten race, with the win over Indiana at FedEx Field. Matt McGloin had a career day, while Penn State's special teams came up with a huge go-ahead score in the second half. Indiana wouldn't go down softly, however, as the Hoosiers would put up one heck of a fight.

What to like. What to hate. What to not freak out about. Right now...

penn state vs IU.
(Photo: Flickr user Suzie Robb)

Tip of the Hat

Matt McGloin - For those of you thinking I dislike anything about The Scranton Slinger, you haven't been reading my game reviews, because I've given plenty of praise for everything McGloin has done well since taking over the quarterback job. That being said, what wasn't to like about McGloin's performance against Indiana? Not much. Completing 71 percent, for 315 yards and two scores with no interceptions; that's the kind of day we all hope for against a defense like Indiana's. McGloin, once again, got the job done.

Derek Moye - Great calls by the coaches gave Moye opportunities to touch the ball on both receptions and carries. The junior flanker hauled in 6 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown, and carried twice for 39 yards. Going into 2011, Moye should be primed for a run at 1st team All-Big Ten, if not more.

Offensive Line - As has been the trend in recent weeks, the offensive line excelled in pass protection. The run blocking was iffy at times, but overall it was another good day up front. The big thing here is that the line was playing without two starters for most of the game. Doug Klopacz injured his leg, being replaced by Stefen Wisniewski. Starting right tackle Chima Okoli, and his second-string backup, DeOn'tae Pannell, both missed the team meeting before the game. That left the entire left side of the line without three two-deep players. In came John Urschel at RG and Mike Farrell at RT. They both performed well beyond anyone's expectations, not missing a beat all game long.

Pete Massaro - Massaro played a great game against Indiana, even if the stat sheet didn't show much. Massaro registered 1.5 TFL and 0.5 sack, but his pressure on Ben Chappell all game long forced bad throws and kept the Indiana offensive line off balance.

Gerald Hodges - We've been waiting for him to show up here for a while. Though tackling was a bit of a problem for the entire Penn State defense, Hodges was far from a main culprit. But in his first career start, Hodges' biggest plays came on pass defense. From the "Sam" OLB spot, Hodges blew up an Indiana wide receiver just as the ball reached him, forcing the incompletion. On another play, Hodges played tight coverage perfectly to break up a middle pass. Hodges also finished with 6 tackles.

Andrew Dailey & James Van Fleet - This is the kind of play you want from special teams... the scoring kind. While a bad snap doomed any kind of great punt to begin with, it wouldn't have been blocked had it not been for Dailey not giving up on the rush. Van Fleet was right there, coming up with the ball and score.

Alex Butterworth - With Anthony Fera out for at least the regular season, Butterworth punted for the first time in his young career. Butterworth averaged a very nice 41 yards per punt, with one of the two landing inside the 20 yard line.

Wag of the Finger

Tackling - It wasn't as bad as the Alabama game, but every time Penn State would reach the ball carrier, the Indiana player would seem to always grind out an extra 2-3 yards after contact. That's not the kind of defense Penn State is used to fielding. If there is one thing that can't happen next week against Michigan State's power backfield, it's poor tackling technique.

Pass Defense - Ben Chappell only threw for 235 yards, but it felt like a whole lot more. Penn State was frequently out of position or just played bad coverage, giving the Hoosiers several very big chunks of passing yardage. It wasn't so much about the pass defense on every down, rather it was the big plays allowed to Indiana that remains burnt into the mind.

Johnnie Troutman - The potential for Troutman is through the roof, but he just can't keep his head on straight. Troutman was flagged twice for a false start and a holding call. Then later on a 4th down play, he was late getting around on his pulling block. The conversion attempt failed. Troutman in no way deserves to lose his job, but if he doesn't want another serious challenge this off-season, the dumb mistakes must end.

Chaz Powell - This isn't so much about Chaz Powell the Cornerback, or Chaz Powell the Kick Returner. It's about his overall performance at both spots. He officially logged three pass breakups, for which he deserves credit. But he also was MIA on the quick slant touchdown pass that allowed Indiana to tie the game at 24. On kick returns, the usually explosive Powell only returned one kick, but fumbled it for a 5-yard loss.

Misc. Observations

-Rob Bolden did actually play in this game. But it was so late, so meaningless, that you had probably already changed the station. Bolden went 2-for-2, for 10 yards. But he did fumble a bad snap, which some people will probably use as proof why he's not playing any more.

-Silas Redd was the leading rusher, with 9 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. Evan Royster was second, but with more carries, 16 for 48 yards and a touchdown. Royster remains the starter and workhorse, but Redd is the most exciting true freshman tailback around here in a long time.

-Devon Smith caught the same pass that he dropped last week at Ohio State. It was a vertical route down the right sideline. Smith gained 45 yards.

-Indiana's Tandon Doss is a beast. He finished with 293 all-purpose yards.

-After the first two drives, Penn State's offense stalled badly. It allowed Indiana to go on a 24-10 scoring run. In the second quarter, Penn State's drives consisted of: 4 plays, 21 yards; 7 plays, 14 yards for a field goal; 3 plays, 7 yards. Penn State doesn't have the ability to go for a kill-shot when it has the opposing team primed to get knocked out.

-A bunch of players got to see significant playing time who wouldn't otherwise have. It was all due to the group of starters who missed the team meeting Saturday morning. The players who started: LDT Jordan Hill, RDT James Terry, and ROT Mike Farrell. Players who saw more time than usual: ROG John Urschel and DT Brandon Ware.

-Penn State held the ball 14 minutes longer than Indiana. Time of possession was Penn State: 36:59, Indiana: 23:01.

-Did I miss anything? Tell me in the comments.


Admit it, you were concerned about this game, but not really. Penn State had never lost to Indiana, and wasn't going to this year either. Well now the Nittany Lions remain undefeated against the Hoosiers, and are in prime contention for an 8-4 final season record.

Though it's not over until this Saturday's home game against Michigan State, we can start looking back on this 2010 season. It wasn't supposed to be a good year, and it hasn't been. But looking into it further, 2010 is a tale of two seasons. The first half was against stiff competition, mostly on the road in hostile environments, with inexperienced players and an uncertain gameplan. Following the bye week, however, Penn State has been rolling, with a 4-1 run starting with the win at Minnesota. While the competition is much weaker than the first half of the year, Penn State's momentum is stronger than ever.

Penn State returns home to host a 10-1, 11th ranked Michigan State squad that's looking to really stick it to the Nittany Lions. If Penn State can play with the kind of intensity it displayed early against Indiana, there's a great chance to make the last season finale against Sparty a memorable one.

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