U-M Game Breakdown

Mark Brennan hashes out the good, the bad and the oh-so ugly from Penn State's 14-9 pratfall to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor Saturday.

ANN ARBOR — Penn State's miseries against Michigan continue. The Nittany Lions dropped their ninth-straight game against the Wolverines, this time 14-9 in Ann Arbor Saturday.

Penn State entered the contest at 3-0 and ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Wolverines were 1-2, unranked and starting a true freshman quarterback. Everything seemed in place for “the streak” to end.

But as the old saying goes, that's why they play the game.

Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday's action.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Have to give credit where it is due. Michigan running back Mike Hart pounded out 153 tough yards and a score on 44 carries. His long carry was only 14 yards.

CLOSE SECOND: U-M rookie QB Ryan Mallett, subbing for injured veteran Chad Henne, was poised all day. He connected on 16 of 29 passes for 170 yards and only one interception. He also calmly dealt with PSU's strong pass rush. Odd that the Wolverine staff seemed to have more confidence in Mallett than the Lion offensive brain trust had in senior Anthony Morelli.

TURNING POINT: Penn State cut it to 7-6 on a Kevin Kelly field goal in the fourth quarter. Michigan responded with a 15-play, 77-yard drive on which Hart scored to make it 14-6. It was the first time the Lion defense really cracked on the day, but came at the worst possible moment.

SOLID STRATEGY: Lloyd Carr wisely feeding Hart.

NUMBERS GAME: Michigan had 86 offensive plays, Penn State only 60. It explains why the PSU defense was gassed at the end.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: In what has become much too common an occurence, Penn State starting tailback Austin Scott fumbled again. This one, lost deep in the Michigan red zone, prevented the Lions from grabbing momentum in the third quarter. Scott spent the rest of the game on the bench as Rodney Kinlaw came in and played well.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Jeremy Boone pooched a punt to the Michigan 3 in the first quarter. Boone did a nice job with directional boots all game and held well on Kelly's three field goals.

WHAT'S UP WITH: Penn State running on its first three plays of the game and on six of seven first-downs (including sacks) in the first quarter? Something about the Big House makes the PSU coaching staff — particularly on the offensive side — tighten up. Galen Hall, Jay Paterno and company seemed to do everything they could to keep the Wolverines and their fans in the game.

WHAT'S UP WITH II: The Lions punting rather than allowing Kelly to try a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter? Sure it would have been into a bit of a breeze. And sure Boone made the most of his chance by pinning the Wolverines at their own 3 (see above). But don't you have to show a little more confidence in your junior kicker? “I was little shocked by the call,” Kelly said. Playing not too lose against Michigan hasn't been working out so well for Lions.

HIT SQUAD: Lion Larry Federoff layed out Michigan kick return man Brandon Minor after an 18-yard bring-back in the second quarter.

TOUGH GUY: Lion corner Justin King left the game or a spell in the third quarter with a leg cramp and was replaced by A.J. Wallace. King headed to the locker room for I.V. treatment and returned to the game.

HIDDEN HERO: Lion end Maurice Evans had nine tackles, four of them behind the line.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Kelly was true on all three of his field-goal attempts.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu had four tackles, three of them behind the line.


• After Kinlaw ripped off a 38-yard gain in the fourth quarter, he came off the field for a rest. Redshirt freshman Evan Royster — not Scott — replaced him.

• Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley showed up in the media room after the game. Good for him. None of the Lion offensive coaches came out, though. Considering the way the offense struggled and that either Jay Paterno or Galen Hall spoke to the media after PSU's three wins, one of them should have shown their face Saturday.

• Only three true freshmen were on State's 70-man travel roster: offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, kicker Ryan Breen and receiver Derek Moye. None played.

• Veterans of note held off the travel roster were quarterback Paul Cianciolo, receiver James McDonald and tight end Brennan Coakley.

• White-clad Penn State fans were speckled throughout Michigan's “Maize-Out.” This had to be one of the best Big Ten road turnouts by Lion fans since PSU joined the conference in 1993.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: We'll forego the obvious (Will PSU ever beat Michigan?) and instead ask the following: Does this team have enough leadership to bounce back from a loss in the Big Ten opener? Stay tuned.


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