ISU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's muggy mugging of Indiana State in the season opener.

Rob Bolden was first off the bus. Joe Paterno was not even on the bus. And Silas Redd ran like a man who was late for a bus.

At the end of the hot, humid day, Penn State whipped overmatched Indiana State 41-7 at Beaver Stadium Saturday, building a 34-0 lead early in the third quarter before taking its foot off the gas.

Next stop: No. 2 Alabama back at Beaver Stadium next weekend.

The final Saturday was 41-7. All told, 73 Nittany Lions made it onto the field.

As expected, Bolden got the nod at quarterback over Matt McGloin, but the duo split snaps about evenly. With a very limited passing attack, it is difficult to say one or the other earned a start vs. the Crimson Tide based on the ISU game. PSU threw a total of 20 passes, with Bolden connecting on 6 of 12 (including a clear drop of a bomb on one play) and McGloin on 6 of 8.

Both players -- and everyone else on the team, for that matter -- took a back seat to Redd, who eclipsed the century mark for the second time in his career while averaging 8.7 yards per carry. More on him later.

In the meantime, the defense dominated until the scrubs gave up a score late in the fourth quarter.

And Paterno?

After saying there was a “50-50” chance he'd coach from the sideline, he never got anywhere near it. Still on the mend from what he calls a “cracked” bone in his pelvis, he did not even ride the team bus to the stadium. He was driven into the facility in a car and taken by golf cart first to the locker room and later to the press box.

Here is our breakdown of the day that was.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Redd was outstanding in his debut as Penn State's starting tailback. He carried only 12 times but gained 104 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns.

CLOSE SECOND & THIRD: Penn State's defensive tackle tandem of Devon Still and Jordan Hill (Still/Hill?) dominated the trenches. They did not post big numbers (a combined eight tackles), but their strong play allowed the linebackers to pile up a ton of stops.

TURNING POINT: Chaz Powell opened the game with a 95-yard kickoff return for a score. ISU responded with a three-and-out, and that was pretty much that. Powell had a 100-yard return for a score in last year's season opener, against Youngstown State. But that was in the second half.

SOLID STRATEGY: We know there is a quarterback battle. But PSU wisely relied heavily on the ground game, with 48 carries compared to just 20 pass attempts. No need to show Alabama anything.

NUMBERS GAME: The Nittany Lions had 12 first downs. But alarmingly, they were just 2 of 10 on third-down attempts. Given the opponent, that's terrible, even with a basic offense.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Penn State's feeble punt return game of recent years continued to be just that. The Lions averaged 5.2 yards on six attempts.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Alex Butterworth, subbing for the suspended Anthony Fera (dreaded off-field issues) at punter, somehow booted one past a Sycamore rusher who appeared to be clear for the block. Butterworth had one shank, but overall averaged 38 yards on three kicks, with two downed inside the 20. ISU had no punt return yards.


• Penn State running an end-around to Derek Moye on a fourth-and-3 in the first quarter. It came after the Lions called timeout to prevent a delay penalty. It proved, once again, that it is never good to give this staff too much time to think about a short-yardage situation.

• The staff using Moye, its most valuable receiver, on punt returns in the second half (he returned one for four yards). It's not that we oppose the idea of a star player returning punts. But to have him doing it during garbage time against a vastly inferior opponent? Crazy.

• The Evan Lewis experiment. The walk-on has done whatever the staff has asked of him to this point of his career, taking reps in the defensive backfield and at wide receiver in previous seasons. Saturday, PSU tried him at kicker, with awful results. He missed his only two field-goal tries (38 and 47 yards) and muffed an extra point. He also struggled on kickoffs, with only one touchback on six attempts. He was eventually replaced by true freshman Sam Ficken, who is on scholarship and was presumably brought on to handle the kicking duties this season.

• Allowing Lewis to attempt a 47-yard kick.

• The attendance figure (96,461). The new STEP plan and the poor opening opponent apparently caused many fans to stay away. We're guessing the true attendance was closer to 85,000. No word on whether the head-counters from the Jordan Center were brought in to tally attendance for this one.

• All of those penalties. We get that PSU was shuttling a lot of new faces in and out of the game, especially late. But being flagged seven times (for 45 yards) was a lot.

HIT SQUAD: Fullback Michael Zordich leveled Sycamore return man Leonard Riston on a kickoff in the first quarter. It's easy to see why the staff used Zordich as a linebacker earlier in this career.

HIDDEN HERO: Backup defensive tackle Evan Hailes returned to action after missing all of the spring and most of the preseason with a blood-clot issue. He did not make a tackle but disrupted some things. Inspirational stuff.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Fullback Joey Suhey had six carries for 29 yards and a score, and two catches for 16 yards.


• After a minus-four turnover ratio in 2010, Penn State got off on a good foot in that department in 2011. The Lions had two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and did not turn the ball over themselves.

Johnnie Troutman, listed as a second-team on the depth chart, got the start at left guard.

Sean Stanley got the start at defensive end in place of listed first-teamer Eric Latimore.

• Backup tackle Mike Farrell left the game with what was later diagnosed as a sprained knee.

• True freshmen besides Ficken who played included defensive back Adrian Amos and wide receiver Allen Robinson. Amos intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it for 46 yards. Robinson did not make a catch.

• Receiver Curtis Drake, who missed the preseason while recovering from a leg injury sustained in the spring, dressed and warmed up. But he did not play.

• Tailback Stephfon Green, who was suspended for most of the preseason (more dreaded off-field issues), suited up but did not play. He was never anywhere near the main offensive huddle.

• With Paterno in the press box, captains Moye, Quinn Barham, Still and Drew Astorino led the Lions out of the tunnel. In the past, the captains would take the field a few minutes before the rest of the team to prepare for the coin flip.

• Penn State won the flip and -- in a break from tradition -- opted to receive. Paterno said he did so to give Powell a chance for an early return. It worked.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: OK, so Indiana State is out of the way. Are the Nittany Lions ready for a real opponent next weekend?


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