What was the immediate player reaction to the loss?
"Devastation," one observer said. "I think everyone thought this team could step up and get it done. That second quarter killed us, though. It was just too big of a hole to dig out of and forced us to get out of our game."
As another observer explained, "The locker room [after the game] was pretty quiet. I know a lot of [players] felt they let each other down. It wasn't how they wanted to close things out, particularly for these seniors. It was great to get to the BCS, but they deserved more."
So what went wrong?
The consensus among program observers is that there were several aspects that went wrong during the game.
"We were trying to bring [defensive] pressure, but their [offensive] line deserved a lot of credit," on observer said. "The blitzes just didn't do enough and they then went to their big wideouts who really opened things up. They did a good job adjusting to what was thrown at them."
"Regardless of how you feel about the officiating, there were a lot of mental mistakes in this one. If [Aaron] Maybin's caused fumble isn't called back that changes the whole early momentum of the game," another observer said. "I need to look at the film to see if he actually lined up off-sides, though. But beyond that, the team just seemed to lose their keys at times.
"Who knows?" a third observer said. "Evan [Royster] was finding a way to run on them. If he is able to stay in the game, it probably helps us convert some of those key third downs."
How is the injury situation?
"We had a lot of guys who were sidelined in this game. It really dealt a blow to the offense," one observer said.
Royster injured his left knee during the closing moments of the first quarter. According to one observer, "He wanted to stay in [the game], but he was in pain. He wanted to keep going despite the [sprained] knee, but the staff wasn't going to let him risk a bad tear."
"He's pretty upset about getting sidelined," another observer explained. "I think he took it pretty tough and felt he let [the team] down. I'm not sure how bad the knee is though."
Royster's backup, Stephfon Green, stepped in and rushed for 57 yards before getting sidelined with a right ankle injury. Brandon Beachum ultimately stepped in to take over ball-carrying duties for Green. Greens injury was thought to be a sprain.
Dennis Landolt hurt his left knee in the game and was replaced by Lou Eliades. Stefen Wisniewski also played sparingly. Observers believe the left knee sprain from earlier this season was re-injured. Mike Lucian stepped in for Wisniewski. "Both guys should be fine come the off-season," one observer said, referring to Wisniewski and Landolt.
As for Jordan Norwood, who took a brutal helmet-to-helmet penalty hit, he got back into the game. But observers say he "seemed off" after the blow. "But boy, he may look 15, but he's one tough SOB," one observer said. "you have to respect that."
What does the PSU team do with this loss?
"That's hard to answer, we'll have to see," an observer told us. "This team has not been about talk this year, so we'll see how the off-season goes and if the [players and coaches] use this to elevate their play."
What was with Paterno denying the ABC pregame interview and post-game media locker room access?
Paterno could face fines from the NCAA for denying both BCS policies, but observers weren't surprised by the moves.
"Look, Joe does what Joe wants to do. He probably felt the pregame interview was a distraction or he had a few more things he wanted the use the time for for his game prep. As for the post-game, right or wrong, he probably felt he was looking out for his team," an observer said. "I am sure he does not care about the fines, although it would be ironic for the NCAA to pounce on this considering all the crap they tend to turn a blind eye to these days."
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