NAVY: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and not much ugly from Penn State's win over the Midshipmen at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

When senior receiver Justin Brown transferred to Oklahoma prior to the season, Penn State fans wondered how the team's passing game could possibly succeed without the only projected returning player who caught more than five balls in 2011.

Three games into the season, even though the Nittany Lions are 1-2, a lot of folks are now asking, “Justin who?”

Sophomore Allen Robinson, who barely played in 2011 under the former coaching staff, has emerged as a star in Bill O'Brien's offense. It is difficult to imagine anyone -- including Brown -- being much better.

Don't believe it?

In three seasons of action -- including the past two as a starter -- Brown registered exactly three touchdown catches.

Robinson matched that total Saturday against Navy, hauling in five balls for 136 yards and three scores. He entered the game as the Big Ten's leading receiver, and now has 24 catches for 322 yards and four TDs on the season.

Needless to say, we lead off our game breakdown with the guy who broke open the game.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Robinson has been so good he's already earned a nickname from fans -- A-Rob. You'll hear more about him a little later.

CLOSE SECOND: LB Michael Mauti was once again a beast. He had a dozen tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. The senior is playing outstanding football.

CLOSE THIRD: QB Matt McGloin continued to play well. He connected on 13 of 21 passes for 231 yards, four scores and no interceptions. He was only sacked once. With eight TDs and only one pick on the season, McGloin's QB rating is 135.8, up significantly from the 118.34 he posted in 2011.

TURNING POINT: McGloin hit Robinson for 45 yards and a score on State's second possession, leading to a two-touchdown lead. Which brings us to…

SOLID STRATEGY: Penn State won the toss and -- knowing Navy loves to control possession -- elected to receive. The Lions scored on their opening drive and then their second drive to go up 14-0. The Midshipmen are not equipped to play come-from-behind ball. Which brings us to…

NUMBERS GAME: Navy controlled the ball for 36:23 (to Penn State's 23:37). But the Midshipmen were spinning their wheels for most of that time. It was almost like a basketball team going into the four corners while trailing. The triple-option ball-control offense is dangerous when a team is leading or a game is tight. But, as we noted, it doesn't work for an outfit trying to mount a comeback.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: LB Gerald Hodges (interception) and DT Jordan Hill (fumble recovery) both came up with turnovers.


• O'Brien electing not to give K Sam Ficken a shot at a 25-yard field goal on fourth and goal from the 8-yard line while leading 20-0. Yes, Ficken's struggles continued with a missed extra point earlier in the game. But the staff has to do something to build his confidence. Penn State went for it and did not convert. O'Brien insisted it was because he had a play he really liked. Yeah, right. From this view, the smart play there was trying to get the three so Navy could not win with three TDs and three extra points.

• Ficken continuing to struggle. He could not miss during pregame. And the student section behind the end zone was going nuts every time he made one prior to the game. They cheered wildly on every PAT make in the game, too. On the miss, they did not boo. People in the stadium seemed to have his back. The kid has to step up.

HIT SQUAD: Hodges only had five tackles. But he was destroying Navy QB Trey Miller on the option. Credit Miller for making several great pitches shortly before being crushed by Hodges. That is one tough guy at the helm of the Middies' offense.

HIDDEN HERO: S Stephen Obeng-Agyapong has had some shaky moments in his first season as a starter. But on the day Saturday, he had nine tackles, one tackle for loss and forced the fumble Hill recovered.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Freshman wideout Trevor Williams made his first career catch, reeling in a 24-yarder on a fourth-and-12 in the second quarter.


• Neither team seemed very confident in its kickers. Navy was 5 of 8 on fourth-down attempts. Penn State was 1 of 2. The teams combined for four punts -- three by the Lions and one by the Midshipmen.

• The speed LB Mike Hull showed on a 74-yard scoop and score in the fourth quarter.

• The athleticism DE Anthony Zettel showed on his two sacks. On the second one, he went airborne and landed on Navy backup QB John Hendrick.

• Hill lining up as a blocking back in the goal-line offense. Penn State tried to run a pass play for him. He was covered, so McGloin hit rookie Jesse James for a score.

Paul Jones seeing his first career action -- at tight end. The one-time star quarterback recruit said he quit the team “for 20 minutes” when O'Brien asked him to play some tight end prior to the Virginia game, but quickly changed his mind. He caught one pass (for seven yards) at TE Satuday.

• That PSU rotated backups Eric Shrive (guard and tackle) and Angelo Mangiro (guard) in with the first-team offensive line.

• Penn State only had three ball carriers in the game -- Michael Zordich, Curtis Dukes and McGloin.

• That several key PSU players were in street clothes. They included tailbacks Bill Belton and Derek Day, offensive tackle Donovan Smith, defensive end Pete Massaro and linebacker Nyeem Wartman.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can the Lions cobble together back-to-back wins by beating Temple next weekend, so they can head into Big Ten play on a bit of a roll?

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