Penn State had a rough closeout to an otherwise tough season with a 34-10 loss to Michigan State. Get a look at the lows and some highs from the Senior Day clash.
was simply outgunned on Senior Day against a Top 10 Michigan State
squad who, for the most part, had their way with the Nittany Lions. Here is a look at the lows and a few highs from the regular season wrap-up game.
THE LOW FIVE
Feels like the special teams unit has been on the low side of things all season. The Spartans opened with a 90-yard kickoff touchdown return. Toss another bumbled field goal attempt and the special teams were anything but in this one.
The defense collective tackling effort today was, for the most part, horrible. It's amazing that a defense ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run has issues with fundamental tackling so late in the season. Michigan State ball carriers ran through arm tackles in the flat and
Running on Empty:
Penn State's lack of a running game reared it's ugly head again. On the day the Lions managed to rush for 38 yards. Akeel Lynch
"led" the charge with 51 yards and a touchdown, but the running game between the offensive line woes and a unimaginative scheme (up the middle again and again) forces Penn State to rely on an unreliable passing game.
For the life of me I fail to understand why the offensive staff does not use the slant as the bread and butter of the passing attack. It works, for example with TE Mike Gesicki
, but the coaches only use it once, maybe twice per game. Christian Hackenberg
had another lackluster outing, failing to break the 50 percent passing mark. He simply struggles when given too much (or not enough) time. And what's up with those deep balls?
Again ball protection was not a forte of the PSU squad. With another interception and a fumble the Lions continue to hand opportunities to opponents.
Short and Nothing:
Penn State had the ball four times in Michigan State territory and got zero points out of it. That's basically the defining summary of the offense this season.
THE HIGH FOUR
A tip of the hat to the seniors who stood by Penn State and showed tremendous character amidst adversity. They could have tucked tail and took off, but showed what they're truly made of and should be eternally revered by PSU.
PSU's secondary has struggled in recent weeks, and they still left some gaping holes open today, but the defensive backs collectively stepped up significantly more in this game.
From my perspective, wrapping up this season, which is presumably the resulting low point of the NCAA sanctions garbage, is a positive. The Penn State needs to close out strong with a bowl, but beyond that the program needs to look forwards and start solving some major issues.
Don't take this as a morale victory, but many an expert predicted a losing season for Penn State this year and anyone who is honest with themselves realized PSU was prizefighting with one hand tied behind it's back, so making a bowl was a big statement this statement. I do think many overlook the situation PSU is faced with, particularly facing a Top 10 squad. Having said that, Franklin has to get back to the drawing board and deliver on his early season "promise" of fixing the offensive problems for 2015. He needs to take a long, hard, honest look at his staff and personnel.