OUTBACK: The Low Five

Penn State fought an uphill battle on Saturday thanks to five turnovers on their way to a 37-24 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.

Statistically, Penn State had the edge in both time of possession (UF 27:11 vs. PSU 32:49) and total yards (UF 279 vs. PSU 350), but the Nittany Lions also had to bear the burden of a rough passing game. It only seems fitting given the performance to start with the lows.

The Low Five

Unfortunately, the Lions were faced with a lot of low points in this game.

  • Passed Out: To say Matt McGloin had a rough day is an understatement. On the day he went 17 for 41 (41.6%) for 211 (5.1 YPP), one touchdown and and eye-popping five interceptions. McGloin was forcing passes all afternoon, with several batted down and nearly picked off aside from the five that were grabbed by the Gators. McGloin did manage to rush for a touchdown though.

  • Round and Round: It is head-scratching that PSU's offensive staff refused to give true freshman quarterback Rob Bolden at the very least a drive to see if it got the offense in gear. With McGloin consistently struggling throughout the game it's one thing to give a player a shot at getting his confidence back, but after the third interception or so it seems like shifting gears wouldn't be that unheard of.

  • Disconnected: While McGloin was certainly off his game today, the PSU staff seemingly insisted on regularly shifting the play-calling away from the plays that McGloin tends to excel at with roll outs, screens and intermediate passes. It just didn't feel like a situation that was designed to play to McGloin's strengths. That is not an excuse, but it certainly didn't help.

  • Change-up: As the game progressed Evan Royster certainly seemed to get stronger (more on that later), but what is interesting is that as Royster started grinding up chunks of yardage the coaches shifted to Silas Redd. Redd has shown that he can provide a spark, but on this day Royster was averaging 4.9 YPC to Redd's 1.6 YPC.

  • While the defense certainly had streaks where they stiffened and forced some key three-and-outs, the defense certainly struggled for periods, particularly the interior of the line against Florida's run game. Chris Rainey averaged 11 YPC and Omarius Hines averaged 15.5 yards while Jeffrey Demps averaged 6.7 YPC.

Bonus Lows

  • Not So Special: PSU's coverage game did not live up to expectations, allowing 21.2 yards on kick returns and 12.5 on punts (PSU only averaged 4.5 yards on punt returns), giving the Gators an edge in the battle for field position.

  • Missed Opportunity: With a depleted defense, a coaching staff that is packed and ready to leave Gainesville and a starting QB thinking of a transfer you'd think Florida would be distracted. And frankly, they seemed to be, but it seemed to come down to who wanted it less and the Lions edged out UF.

  • Three Ring Circus: Florida grabbed the win, but the Gator's quarterback rotation was downright strange with new QBs coming in from play to play at times. Combined they were 14 for 27 for 101 yards (3.7 YPP), 0 TDs and 1 INT.

The High Five

It's hard to find a lot of consistent positives in this one, but here are few.

  • Broken Record: Royster needed 84 yards heading into this game to be Penn State's first back to rush for 1,000+ yards in three seasons; he got 98. Royster ran hard and found some cracks in the UF defense, but unfortunately the turnovers were too much to overcome. He also caught four passes for 51 yards.

  • Moye Fantastico: Derek Moye had another big game, grabbing five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, including an impressive 44-yard grab that was a hairline fracture from the goal-line.

  • Line It Up: Although the passing game struggled and the ground game was up and down, the line did a solid job overall at giving McGloin protection and time to deliver the ball.

  • Jonesing for Contact: One bright spot on defense was DaQuan Jones. The freshman defensive lineman saw limited action, but got an impressive surge off the line. He could be a much needed boost to the defensive line rotation next season.

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