5 Answers: Penn State at Ohio State

This week our focus was on the battle between the Penn State offensive line and the Ohio State front, PSU quarterback Matt McGloin, Penn State screen passes, the OSU offensive game plan and special teams.

1. Can Penn State's offensive line handle the Ohio State defensive front?

Although the Buckeyes did not register a sack, they applied more and more pressure as the game went on, and that appeared to take its toll on the Nittany Lion passing game.

As far as running was concerned, Ohio State held All-Big Ten running back Evan Royster (49 yards on 16 carries) in check again, and backup Silas Redd (46 yards on 11 carries) never got untracked, either.

While the starting defensive line for the Buckeyes controlled the PSU front, they were aided by contributions from reserves Johnathan Hankins, Adam Bellamy and Garrett Goebel as well.

"They're definitely understanding the defense more," starting nose guard Dexter Larimore said. "They're using their hands. They're doing things you want to see as a defensive lineman, so I think they've really improved the last couple weeks."


2. Will Matt McGloin stay hot?

Penn State's sophomore quarterback looked like a world-beater in the first half, but the Buckeyes brought him back to earth in a big way after intermission.

In the first quarter, he became the first Nittany Lion to throw a touchdown pass at Ohio Stadium since 1963 (a stretch covering 10 games), but in the third quarter he became the fourth PSU signal caller to throw an interception returned for a touchdown against Ohio State in the past decade.

The former walk-on was 13 for 18 for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half but went 2 for 12 with two interceptions returned for scores in the second.

"We were just disguising a lot better, moving around. I think that was key," said cornerback Devon Torrence, who snagged the first McGloin pick-six. "I don't think he could really understand what we were doing because sometimes we were in a different coverage and I don't think he was even looking out to see what we were in. He would just go and snap the ball, so I think that was one of his problems."

By the end, McGloin had been pulled from the game, prompting Ohio State students in the north end of the stadium to chant, "Where's your walk-on?" toward the PSU sideline.


3. Can Ohio State control Penn State's screen passes?

The Nittany Lions had some success with their screen game, but they did not emphasize that part of their attack to a great degree.

The biggest play was a 26-yard completion from McGloin to Stephfon Green late in the second quarter. That looked like it would be an important play as it converted a third-and-10 and gave Penn State a first down at the Ohio State 35, but the Buckeye defense later stiffened on that drive, stopping the Nittany Lions on a crucial fourth-and-1 at the OSU 20.


4. What will Jim Tressel lead with on offense?

As was the case when the Buckeyes fell behind in a loss at Wisconsin, Ohio State opened the game trying to do a variety of things on offense, and the results were nothing to write home about.

Tressel and his offensive braintrust called for seven different formations in the Buckeyes' first nine plays, including a couple of looks rarely if ever seen so far this season.

Perhaps tellingly, the best play of the early going was a simple deep route by DeVier Posey from the Buckeyes' traditional I-formation. Pryor dropped to throw and lofted one deep for Posey, who ran past PSU cornerback D'Anton Lynn and pulled in a slightly underthrown pass for a 49-yard gain that set up an eventual field goal.

As was the case in Madison, the Buckeyes got rolling in the second half with a return to emphasizing their power running game.


5. Will Ohio State's special teams units hold up?

The Buckeyes had no problems in kickoff or punt coverage.

The longest Penn State kickoff return was a 26-yarder by Shawney Kersey, and the best starting field position for the Nittany Lions after a kickoff was their own 28-yard line.

Freshman kicker Drew Basil booted a touchback on his first kickoff of the day, but that was his best kick of the day.

The coverage units seemed to benefit from the return of Dorian Bell, a redshirt freshman linebacker who missed the past three games because of a concussion.

"I guess they say I'm the best on the coverage team," Bell said. "I wouldn't say that, but I'm one of the most frequently looked at basically."


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