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.
Overall not the most impressive opening day win that I have seen. Like many powerhouse programs facing lesser competition, Penn State seemed to keep it pretty vanilla as far as play-calling and defensive looks. Penn State takes a lot of heat for not always having the most competitive non-league schedule and rightly so. I think it is safe to say that the fans would love to see a big opening-day matchup. That being said, there are definitely benefits to playing a team not at the same level. You allow young guys to get their feet wet and grade them in a game situation. Games such as Akron prove to be morale boosters for younger players and tend to get the jitters out of a young player whose last game may have very well been in front of 1,000 as opposed to 100,000.
My game MVP is going to Sean Lee. No, Lee didn't have the eye-popping statistics to garner him MVP. But my choice in selecting Lee has nothing to do with play on the field; it's the attitude which he brought to the defense. You could tell he brought a level of swagger and attitude to the defense and that is something that can be contagious. He looked good running around on the field, showing no ill effects of an ACL injury that kept him out all of last year. Looking for him to have a 100 tackles year.
Hard to pick a play that had serious implications on the game. The game had a vibe in which it almost looked like the Lions knew they had it in their grasp from the get-go. For the sake of trickiness I'm going with the fake punt. Andrew Dailey took the snap from Andrew Pitz and with a pulling guard to lead, Dailey ran for a nice 37-yard gain. Would I have rather that play been saved for Big Ten play? Yes! But it was a good-looking play, nevertheless.
What I Liked
Norwood, Butler, Williams gone? No problem! I was extremely impressed with the trio of Graham Zug, Chaz Powell and Derek Moye, who accounted for 18 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Can't ask for more than that.
What I Didn't Like
Penn State's inability to gets a consistent ground game going. The line looked a bit out of sync, but I think for this week we can chalk that up to not having the necessary chemistry built that every great running team needs. No reason to get worried yet; the biggest improvement on the offensive line generally comes between week 1 and week 2. Look for Evan Royster and Stephfon Green to get their's next week.
Did You Notice?
Lavar Arrington sporting his/Navarro Bowman's No. 11 jersey on the sideline.
Syracuse QB Greg Paulus looked halfway decent against Minnesota, at least for a guy who hadn't played organized football in four years. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when playing in front of arguably the loudest stadium in college football. The Dean Dome is loud, but not as loud as Beaver Stadium, I'm expecting Tom Bradley to dial up blitz after blitz next Saturday.