UCF: The High (and Low) Five

It was a rough outing for the Nittany Lions as Central Florida edged out a 34-31 victory, their first against a Big Ten team, in Beaver Stadium.

This was one big, ugly game for Penn State as UCF managed their first ever win over a Big Ten team. Here's a look at the lows (which were plentiful) and highs (which were few) for PSU. Let's start with the lows.


Broken Line: UCF's offensive line manhandled Penn State's defense upfront through much of the game. PSU's front seven rarely got pressure on QB Blake Bortle and looked flat out lost on several occasions. It was an ugly night for the Penn State defense, which allowed 507 total yards, in a game they simply could not get a stop when the team needed it.

Bait and Tackle: The Nittany Lions need to get some extra work in on basic tackling technique. I get the need to limit contact in practice to keep the team healthy, but it showed up big time tonight. Time and time again a UCF ball carrier would drag a PSU defender for extra yards. If the defenders can't learn to wrap up, it's going to get ugly in conference play.

Pillow Soft: PSU's secondary gave the UCF receivers large cushions throughout much of the night, making it exceedingly easy for Blake Bortles to pick apart PSU for 288 yards through the air.

Third Time's: The Lions remained basically horrible on third down, going two for eight in a streak that has been a season-long one. IF they can't figure this problem out there are likely some tough games ahead.

Slow Motion: Something that baffled me was the lack of urgency PSU showed through the late goings of the game. With the clock ticking and Penn State needing to score quickly, it seemed there was no hurry-up effort from the offense.


Lion Heart: As ugly as the game got at times, Bill O'Brien's boys never quit. They dug in and fought hard. I think we saw some results of being out manned by 20 or so players on the opposing roster. But the team and coaches deserve at least a nod for not quitting when they easily could have.

Running Hard: Zach Zwinak coughed up a critical fumble as PSU was trying to claw back into the game. Clearly not a high for the running back, but overall Zwinak deserves a nod for 128 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns. He is among the top three in players nationally since 2012 in yardage gained after contact.

Freshman Focus: I've said it before, but I'll say it again, Christian Hackenberg showed great poise throughout the game, particularly with defenders in his face on some missed blocking assignments. He delivered some nice passes, and, yes, made some mistakes, but in the end went 21 for 28 for 262 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Air Mail: Allen Robinson showed why he is among the best of the best. Even when he's interfered with he was grabbing touchdown passes. On the day he pulled in nine balls for 143 yards and one touchdown.

Return Man: Eugene Lewis had an impressive day returning kicks, gaining 106 yards on four kicks, averaging 26.5 yards per return.


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