EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to the first installment of FightOnState.com's Monday Morning Fullback, where former Penn State football player Matt Hahn breaks down the Nittany Lions' most recent game. You've heard of Monday morning quarterback. Well, in covering PSU football, we think hearing from a fullback is more appropriate. And who better to chime in than Hahn, one of the more versatile, intelligent and selfless power backs in school history.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: It was obvious Coastal Carolina was way out of its league. While Penn State looked good in all three aspects of the game — offense, defense and special teams — I would not draw many conclusions from the game. It was definitely beneficial that the Nittany Lions were able to get so many guys playing time. The more experience for the backups the better off the team will be once it gets into the meat of the Big Ten schedule.
GAME MVP: It might be a bit cliché, but I'm going to give this one to the offensive line. Tailbacks Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, Brent Carter and even Brandon Beachum were able to pick their holes and run around all day. Behind an offensive line that flat out dominated an undersized Coastal Carolina defensive line, the Lions gained 334 yards on the ground. The linemen also provided phenomenal protection for both Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin, who were obviously comfortable in the pocket and were barely touched all day. I also liked what I saw with rotating Mike Lucian in at both guard positions. I think that will definitely serve the unit well down the road — having an experienced utility guy who is able to play both guard spots and center.
KEY PLAY: The Lions had a significant number of big plays in this ball game — Derrick Williams' return, Chaz Powell's run and Bani Gbadyu's interception, just to name a few. The key play for me, however, was Clark's first completion to Deon Butler. Although neither the most exciting nor the most entertaining play of the afternoon, I believe it set the tone for Clark and helped boost his confidence. He looked confident and relaxed throwing the ball all day.
WHAT I LIKED: The spreading around of the football. Thirteen different Lions caught the ball, which I think is important to take some of the defensive focus off Butler, Williams and Jordan Norwood. Brett Brackett really stuck out to me as a guy who can be that big receiver and a big-play receiver. NOT just a possession receiver, he is deceptively athletic and he can run and jump. I believe he will have some big plays for the Lions as the season goes on.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It is hard to come up with something I didn't like in a win as dominating as this. If there is one thing I can say I didn't like it was in the first half for the Nittany Lions on defense. There were a couple of instances when the middle of the defense looked a bit soft and Coastal Carolina was able to take advantage of that by dumping the ball over the middle for some good gains. One of those resulted in the Chanticleers' only touchdown.
DID YOU NOTICE? Former Penn State quarterback Wally Richardson's little brother William starting for Coastal Carolina yesterday. Although he didn't have the same success as his older brother did so many times in Beaver Stadium, William made several nice throws and overall played a good game (13-22 for 131 yards) despite sharing time with Zack MacDowall.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Overall a strong start for the Nittany Lions, a good warm-up. Next week Penn State will have to turn it up a notch with a Pac-10 team (Oregon State) coming to town.
Matt Hahn was a four-year letterman at Penn State, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 7.9 yards per catch in his career (2004-07). He was one of the key blocking backs for 1,000-yard rushers Tony Hunt and Rodney Kinlaw. He is one of the few players in school history to register touchdowns on the ground, through the air and after recovering a blocked punt.