PSU's defense, on the other hand, looks like it could be something very special. The Nittany Lion defenders saved the day against Temple here Saturday, forcing three turnovers -- one of which led to the game-winning score in a too-close-for-comfort 14-10 affair at Lincoln Financial Field.
Penn State improved to 2-1 with the victory while the Owls -- who have not beaten the Lions since 1941 -- fell to 2-1 despite leading most of the afternoon.
MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti had six tackles and an interception that proved to be the turning point. His pick with 8:46 remaining gave the Nittany Lions the ball at the Temple 44. The offense turned it into the game-winning score. Three of Mauti's stops were behind the line.
CLOSE SECOND: The PSU offense needed him and wideout Derek Moye came up big. He caught a career-high seven passes for 112 yards, including a clutch third-down conversion on the game-winning drive. Moye also had a 52-yard score wiped out by a holding penalty. Lion quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said the holding call -- tackle Chima Okoli hooked Owl end Adrian Robinson -- was legit.
CLOSE THIRD: Penn State defensive end Sean Stanley played the best game of his life. He had five tackles, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a sack.
TURNING POINT: As mentioned earlier, Mauti's interception.
SOLID STRATEGY: It was nice to see the Penn State offensive coaching staff show some faith in its players late in the fourth quarter. With the Nittany Lions down 10-7 and facing fourth-and-1 at the Temple 3, place-kicker Evan Lewis came on to try a field goal. But then PSU called timeout. After time to think about it, the decision was made to go for the first down. Brandon Beachum easily made it, leading to Michael Zordich's winning TD blast on the next play. At least we think the decision was a shot of confidence in the position players, as opposed to a lack of faith in the struggling Lewis. More on him later.
NUMBERS GAME: This outing wasn't much for fans of the running game. Temple averaged 2.5 yards per carry and Penn State 2.6.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Special teams continue to just destroy Penn State. In this game alone, the Lions had: a punt blocked; a field goal blocked; two other missed field goals; a kick-return man (Devon Smith) trip over the 10-yard line; a punt-return man (Justin Brown) screwing up another attempt that wound up in plenty of lost yardage; and a blocker (Brad Bars) being flagged for a personal foul on that same attempt by Brown.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Moye added some much-needed zip to the punt-return game. He had a 31-yarder on his first attempt, which was in the first quarter. We forgot to mention that earlier. But it seems to fit here.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
The two-headed quarterback monster. Rob Bolden started and completed 9 of 17 for 92 yards and an interception. He led the late touchdown drive. Matt McGloin was 13 of 19 for 124 yards. Neither threw a TD pass.
State's place-kicking. It is officially a disaster. Lewis missed a 45-yarder in the first quarter and a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter. Sam Ficken had a 49-yard try blocked late in the second quarter. Penn State is 1 of 6 on field-goal attempts this year. Hard to believe a major-college program -- especially one that has three scholarships tied up in kickers (Lewis, Ficken and Anthony Fera) can be so bad in this area.
Penn State not using a timeout late in the first half. Temple drove to the PSU 23 and faced fourth down. There was more than a minute left. The Lions' staff let the clock tick away. With 42 seconds left, it finally called timeout. After the Owls made the field goal, the Nittany Lions were left with only 32 seconds on their ensuing drive. Speaking of which
Smith in the kick return game. He had room following the previously mentioned three-pointer and tripped over his own feet -- again. It put PSU in terrible field position for the late first-half drive. Speaking of which
That drive ended with Ficken having his 49-yard try snuffed out.
Penn State's passing game. The Lions have no TD receptions this year.
HIT SQUAD: Mauti was making big sticks all over the place. The best was in the second quarter, when he beat two blockers to drop Bernard Pierce for a three-yard loss.
HIDDEN HERO: Defensive tackle Devon Still dominated the interior of the line again, with six tackles and a sack. He spearheaded an effort that held talented Temple running back Bernard Pierce to 50 yards on 17 carries.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Brown tied a career high with six catches for 62 yards before leaving the game with a hand injury.
DID YOU NOTICE?
That talented sophomore tailback Silas Redd missed long stretches of the game in the second half, despite averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Redd was cramping up.
That when he went to the sideline, Redd was replaced by Beachum. Beachum is clearly more of a fullback than a tailback and just didn't have the burst to make things happen against the quick Owl defense. Have to wonder how suspended senior Stephfon Green felt watching the PSU ground game struggle when Redd was out. Green did not make the trip.
That backup Curtis Dukes was not on the trip. He's in Paterno's doghouse after two off-field incidents over the summer.
That receiver Bell Belton became the fourth Lion true freshman to play this year. Redshirt sophomore Curtis Drake did not make the trip due to a sore leg.
That Paterno was on the sideline before the game but headed to the press box for kickoff.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will the Penn State offense ever get rolling this season?