September 27, 2019

Friday night fight

No deep thoughts on the game tonight. Frankly, I'm not looking forward to this. Two teams Penn State can't lose to, simply because their fans are downright insufferable--Maryland and Rutgers.

Looking at the Syracuse game, Maryland went 11-of-15 on third downs. That screams. Penn State's defense better not come out flat, or this one might get away from them to the point the offense can't claw its way back. I think the game starts out well for PSU, but UMD makes a few plays, maybe takes the lead. It all comes down to whether or not Penn State can maintain its composure. Even if PSU wins, it'll probably really suck for long stretches of the game tonight. I hope I'm really wrong.

The pick: Penn State 34, Maryland 31

September 19, 2019

Photos & quick thoughts from the Pitt game


It's been almost a week, yet my heart rate is still a little elevated. The Penn State win over Pitt was one of the most exciting noon kickoff games I've experienced in a very long time, if not the most exciting ever. It was frustrating, for sure, but a tough win that Penn State probably needed more than it wanted. Games like that teach a team to take nothing for granted. Let's hope the young Nittany Lions learned from it and use this off-week to get themselves mentally ready for Maryland. 

Since this was the first game in a while that I've shot and have been able to process a few photos quick enough to be relevant, here are some shots of the day. The brightness could've been boosted in most of them, but honestly, I didn't have enough time to finely tune the final photographs. My favorite shot of the day is the one at the top of this post. But the rest are below, including the amazing-catch-that-wasn't by Dan Chisena. Oh man, did I want that catch to be ruled complete. It could've been, but we know the refs weren't giving anything to Penn State that day. 

One final update is that the stadium PA system music is still too loud, too annoying, and kills the atmosphere of the stadium more often than it helps. It even drowned out Dean's voice announcing relevant information about the plays. Not sure who isn't paying attention enough to stop this, but it's getting ridiculous. 

September 12, 2019

Leaving at halftime

Similar seats to last week. WGU is a good section.
God, what idiot wrote this?
I'm thinking Penn State shows up again looking sharp
That guy needs to find another hobby.

We left at halftime. Not because Penn State looked like garbage, but that was all the four-year-old could handle. He was tired. We can tell because he gets all snuggly. But a soft pretzel got him through the second quarter. The seven-year-old had a blast again. He's now completely engaged with all the cheers and songs. It was only his third game in Beaver Stadium.

He wasn't too upset when I told him we couldn't afford to go as a family to other games, since now the lowest tickets will be 60+ the rest of the season. But he's already looking forward to next year's non-conference games.

But the piped-in music sucked ass, again. It's far too loud coming from the south video board. And I guess because I'm more tuned into how annoying it is already, I'm now starting to notice how stupid the mashup stuff is, too. I'm sick of hearing something blaring over the PA every time anything happens. Even during pregame, when The Lion points to each quarter of the stadium to get them to cheer loud, now the Lion Roar plays over the PA. Why? Why are we not allowing the crowd noise to carry the atmosphere? But that's just one stupid thing I heard.

The "Make some noise!" that's also mashed with the "laughing" bit needs to stop. We're Penn State fans. We know when to make noise, and we dont' need other stupid sound effects played with it. I think the piped in music and effects are hurting crowd noise, because there's no need for the crowd to participate at the level we saw in past years or during the mega games. Let the atmosphere build from the crowd, not artificial bullshit that sounds like a bad FM radio show.

A quick look at the box score left me even more confused that I was during the game. Outside of Sean Clifford, the offense looked incapable of controlling the game. That's not to take anything away from Buffalo, which played a hell of a game. The Bulls' ability to run the ball and control the clock kept them in this one far longer than anyone expected, and they deserve a huge deal of respect for that.

But Penn State needs to get the ground game going like yesterday. If Pitt can get a few stops, especially a three-and-out early on, Penn State will have to fight for a win Saturday. That's not good enough for this team. They're better than that, and better than Pitt. It's up to them to show it and the coaches to put them in positions to succeed.

The one touchdown by Buffalo came directly from KJ Hamler's drop on third down when he was looking where he was going instead of at the ball. Had he completed the catch, the Bulls wouldn't have scored to take the lead before halftime. The coaches should play video of that drop before every practice. It's the perfect example of just how important the little things are, because nothing is little.

The defense was okay, but couldn't get the push I would've expected up front, and definitely wasn't good enough in the pass game. There were more than a few passes that would've been touchdowns had it not been for an errant throw by just a few feet. The backs looked young. They are. But still.

Special teams haven't been tested really in these two games, but already things look better. I'm hoping it can become a weapon not just in field position, but in adding points to the board for Penn State.

I'm going to the game, unless it rains. I'll be taking photos, and it could be my last one of the season. Money is getting really tight now that the four-year-old is in preschool.

The hope this week is that Penn State wanted to keep things close to the vest these first two games. But if the Nittany Lions are going to be one of those "second half teams" again, we'll all be in for a ride this year. Just blow out everyone and things will be much more pleasant. Easy, right?

Update... I guess a score pick would be good. Penn State 40, Pitt 17.

September 5, 2019

Stupid optimism

Beaver Stadium was surprisingly
full during pregame last week. 
Look, I remember the days when a win like the one over Idaho would give me too much optimism. There's no delusions here. BUT... Penn State looked really good. The first two offensive drives were meh, and that can't happen against any team better than Buffalo. That's not the point. The defense looked as good as we thought, probably better. Yes, even playing Idaho, Penn State looked better than I was expecting.

Sean Clifford appeared cool and confident after he shook off the first-game jitters. He made some throws--again, I know it was Idaho--that only good quarterbacks can make. The most noticeable takeaway from his performance was his arm strength. There were no underthrows, and only one bad overthrow that I could remember. Trace McSorley is the undisputed greatest quarterback to play for Penn State. But no one ever said his arm strength was, well, a strength. Clifford's accuracy and touch left nothing to be desired. We'll see how he does against progressively more stout defenses.

Which reminds me. The other day when we were going over the next few games, my 7-year-old said "well, Pitt is almost as good as Buffalo." I smiled and patted him on the back. He's a good, smart kid. I'm taking the whole family this weekend for the Buffalo game. It'll be the 4-year-old's first time at Beaver Stadium. We are (har har) very excited. Also, I'm thinking Penn State shows up again looking sharp: Penn State 55, Buffalo 0.

I won't get into Penn State's defense, because frankly I'm afraid I'll come out with bruises. What a season it will be if the defense really is this good. It would be a game-finishing defense that, sadly, we haven't seen in the biggest games Penn State has played since James Franklin took over. One more stop in each of the Ohio State (2x), Michigan State (2x), and USC losses would have won those games and Penn State would absolutely have made the playoffs in 2017 and 2018.

If you follow me on Twitter--which I expect all of you do since you're reading this post and no one outside of my twitter following knows this blog is alive again--take a look at the thread on Beaver Stadium's sound levels. It was really annoying during the Idaho game, and I hope they fix it for the Buffalo game.