Welcome to the latest 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: Was the 20-6 win over Penn State's best performance of the season? In my opinion, NO. But for me it was the most impressive victory of the year. Going on the road and playing in an environment such as Purdue's with a noon start and a rowdy crowd could have been a recipe for an upset. Although some fans out there may be a little disappointed because Penn State didn't hang 50 on a sub-par Purdue team, I think that we should take this game as a sign that the team is moving forward and getting better.
GAME MVP: My MVP is going to a guy that has been taking a lot of heat the past couple weeks and really stepped up and had an outstanding game. Josh Hull was flying around and making plays all over the field. He finished with a team-high 11 tackles and really anchored a defense that had its best performance of the season.
KEY PLAY(S): Daryl Clark's 16-yard completion to Graham Zug which set a Clark touchdown and a 23-yard completion to Deon Butler which set up an Evan Royster touchdown. My reasoning for picking both o these plays is not for the obvious reasons that they set up scores. My reasons for picking these particular plays are because I think they highlight the maturity of Clark as a quarterback. The pass to Zug was a laser up the middle that was thrown so hard Zug could not have dropped it if he wanted to. The pass to Butler was a beautifully thrown football on Butler's outside shoulder with tremendous touch. This shows me that Clark has truly matured and can make every throw necessary.
WHAT I LIKED: Penn State going on the road and winning a noon game. Historically, PSU teams start slow with noon starts. Very workmanlike win for the Lions on the road.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The Purdue turf. There were three or four separate instances I saw when a Penn State player planted to cut and slipped and fell. One of those times Royster slipped on a third-and-1 and was unable to make it through what looked to be a gapping hole on the right side of the line.
DID YOU NOTICE: The emergence of redshirt freshmen Drew Astorino, who plays the pass extremely well and comes up and stops the run.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Enormous test for Penn State coming up. The winner in the Penn State-Wisconsin series has been the home team the last few years. Two keys for me in looking forward to this game: 1). Penn State is going to need to jump on the Badgers early in order to take that crowd out of the game; if it's close and the Wisconsin faithful are into it when it is time to jump around, the Lions could be in trouble. 2). The Penn State defense is going to have to punish P.J. Hill every time he touches the ball. When things go well for Hill, he gets in a rhythm and is very difficult to stop. On the flipside, for as physical a runner as Hill is, once he is the one taking the shots, he tends to not run as hard. Look for the two keys in next weekend's matchup.
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.