YSU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's 44-14 win over Youngstown State in the 2010 season-opener at Beaver Stadium.

No. 14 Penn State opened the 2010 season with a 44-14 win over FCS opponent Youngstown State at Beaver Stadium.

But the contest was not nearly as dull as the final score indicated.

Consider that Nittany Lion head coach Joe Paterno started a true freshman quarterback (Robert Bolden) in a season-opener for the first time in his 45-year career.

And that PSU fell behind 7-3 early following a surprising quick-strike TD from the Penguins.

And that the Lion running game, which was expected to be a strength behind a returning All-Big Ten pick at tailback, was anything but, averaging 3.3 yards per carry in the first half.

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

MAN OF THE HOUR: Who else but Bolden? The rookie connected on 20 of 29 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

CLOSE SECOND: Senior receiver and recently named team captain Brett Brackett had a career game, with eight catches for 98 yards and two scores. Brackett had 17 catches in his career prior to this game and only had three grabs in 2009.

CLOSE THIRD: Chris Colasanti's debut as starting middle linebacker was a rousing success, as he made a career-high 13 tackles. He had 18 tackles all of last season.

TURNING POINT: We never got the sense the Lions were in real danger, even when they trailed 7-3 in the second quarter. And when Chaz Powell popped the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a score to give State a 23-7 lead, it was obviously over.

SOLID STRATEGY: The YSU defense used strong linebacker play to slow PSU's ground attack early. Even with the rookie QB, the Lions were not afraid to go to the passing game to loosen things up. State had 132 passing yards and only 50 rushing yards in the first half.

NUMBERS GAME: The Penguins actually held the time-of-possession edge in the game, 31:30 to 28:30.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Penn State's defensive front seven was its typically strong self, limiting YSU to 2.2 yards per carry on 34 attempts.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Senior kicker Collin Wagner was outstanding for PSU, drilling field goals from 44, 49 and 48 yards. He was 1-4 on kicks longer than 40 yards last season.


• The Penn State ground attack struggling, especially early. The rebuilt offensive line seemed to take a while to come together. And All-Big Ten tailback Evan Royster did not seem to have a lot of zip in his step.

• The Nittany Lion defense falling asleep on YSU's opening score, an 80-yard rocket screen to talented wideout Dominique Barnes. Lion defensive coordinator Tom Bradley went so far as to accuse his troops of “loafing” on the play.

• YSU focusing so heavily on the rush -- it had 34 rush attempts to 25 pass attempts -- even though it was obvious the team's only hope to stay in it was via the pass.

IT SQUAD: Derrick Thomas followed up Powell's kick return for a score by wiping out Penguin return man Jamaine Cook on the very next play.

HIDDEN HERO: New kickoff man Anthony Fera was impressive overall. He even put one fourth-quarter boot between the uprights. He had one shank earlier in the game, though.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Barnes is legit. He caught 11 passes for 134 yards and a score and also returned a kickoff for 24 yards.


• The true freshmen who played included: Bolden, fullback Glenn Carson (who was recently moved from linebacker), tight end Kevin Haplea, linebacker Khairi Fortt and running back Silas Redd.

• Mike Mauti, back from a knee injury that cost him all of last season, played outside and inside linebacker.

• All the empty seats. Attendance was listed at 101,213.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Are the Nittany Lions and their young QB ready for a trip to Tuscalossa?

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