See the lows, lows and couple highs from Penn State's sad road effort against Illinois.
One has to wonder if this is the rock bottom point for the program amidst all the drama and emotion they have endured over the past several years. Here's hoping, because losing this game certainly is a head-scratcher given the expectations and perceived abilities around James Franklin and company. Depth and youth excuses aside, Penn State
lost to a team that hasn't been able to string together conference wins for years. Something has to give with continual sub-par offensive performances we're witnessing. Here's a look at the lows and highs from the Illinois
THE LOW FIVE
Not sure what to make of this loss, but the team sure seems to lack a fire at this late stage of the year. It was sad outing for the Nittany Lions, that had promise early on and then reality set in. Penn State should look at this one very closely on both sides of the ball considering how flat out horrible Illinois has been all season. It feels like they simply play to the level of their competition.
While Christian Hackenberg's initial drive showed some promise, his struggles continue on, going 7 for 15 for 72 yards and a touchdown. He continues to roll into the arms of a defenders on a light rush, miss targets, hold onto the ball too long and generally make poor decisions. And the staff continues to ignore it, not sure what to make of that.
Bait and Tackle:
The overall fundamental tackling skills of the defense were weak at best in this game. How many times did the Illinois ball carrier merely bounce off or break through the arm tackles of PSU defenders? The team should watch film Marcus Allen
and how he wraps us.
Dude, Where's the WR?:
Amazing Penn State's defense allowed Mike Dudek
to run wild, particulary on the final drive with little to no attention. They certainly didn't look like a top ranked defense in this game, allowing Dudek to grab 11 receptions for 115 yards
Penn State's secondary got steamrolled giving up 215 yards and a touchdown through the air, the second most passing yards by the Illini this season; in fact they had only broken 100 yards passing once in their last four games.
Man, how sad was the Illinois fan showing. The only thing sadder was watching the Illini D-linemen flap their arms trying to get, what seemed like 2500 fans, to get loud.
THE HIGH THREE
Penn State came out fast and furious and showe some fire with a fake punt. However, the offense downshifted quickly.
On a positive note, the Lions were able to run for 172 yards, led by Akeel Lynch
with 137 yards and a touchdown. The Nitts ran early and often with 47 carries. The downside is the offense remained on-dimensional with the passing game's stall outs.
The defense, despite some drop offs and lapses, particularly late the game, managed to hold Illinois is 68 yards rushing and two of 16 third downs.