The High Five
Still D One: The Nittany Lion defense showed up to play, forcing three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception). On the day they pulled down 12 tackles for loss and continued their aggressive tone, even when losing two key veterans, but more on that later. Devon Still continued to blow up the backfield and on the day the front seven contained EMU's Greene-Gillett combination 43 yards on 24 carries (1.8 YPC).
Catching Up: The Lion receiving unit showed up today to deliver a vital dimension to the PSU offensive attack after some recent struggles. Devon Smith in particular showed up en force, grabbing four passes for 122 yard, including a 71-yard touchdown run on a crossing route. Derek Moye ended up with six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, while Justin Brown snagged three tosses for 28 yards. Also Curtis Drake made an appearance with one catch for 17 yards.
Rushin' Dressing: OK, it wasn't a banner day for the ground attack, but Silas Redd continued showing flashes of brilliance with some tough running, impressive cuts and overall gutsy play. Along the same lines, Curtis Dukes stepped in for Brandon Beachum, who is sidelined with an ankle injury. Dukes himself had some impressive runs, showing he can be a tough runner to pull down.
A Bit More Special: A blocked punt by Malcolm Willis and two field goals, one by Anthony Fera and another late boot by Sam Ficken, showed some needed progress on special teams. The return game needs improvement, but the unit seems to be showing some needed progress.
Passing Lane: While the quarterbacks continued dual-duty, Matt McGloin deserves a tip of the hat, going 14 for 19 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. McGloin showed pocket awareness, ran through his progression and delivered some nice passes to a variety of targets. We're not certain the coaches are ready to declare an all-out starter, but McGloin had an impressive outing today. Bolden ended up going seven for 13 with 115 yards and one TD and one INT.
The Low Five
Stall Outs: The PSU offense continues to stall drives with false starts and unforced errors. As the game progressed they cleaned it up some, and they ended up with fewer flags than last week against Temple, but still closed with five for 25 yards.
Stumbling Blocks: While the pass blocking managed to help roll up 359 yards through the air, the run blocking from the offensive line continued to struggle, allowing the backfield to rush for a mere 110 yards on 25 carries. And frankly Redd's evasiveness gave that number a nice boost.
Short Shots: The offense had some nice moments in the play-calling department, like the Devon Smith touchdown pass. However, there continue to be calls that turn out to be head-scratchers. For example, on third and long the PSU staff will send their receivers out three to five yards short of the first down marker. It can be baffling.
Coughing Fit: OK, one was late in clean up time, but PSU had two other turnovers today and on the year have given the ball back seven time (three interceptions). The offense has to button this up with less forgiving defenses on the horizon as they enter Big Ten play.
Lost Veterans: a huge blow to the defense was the injuries to Michael Mauti and D'Anton Lynn. The extent of their injuries remain to be seen, but the good news is that Lynn has had movement in his extremities, which is a good sign. Our thoughts are with both players for fast, full recoveries.
Push It: As much as it provides a headline that Joe Paterno was back on the sideline (for the first half), he was forced back up in the press box for the second half. Still unable to ride the team bus, and using his cane, it feels to me that they are forcing things with him, which I personally think is not a benefit to the team.