Saturday's match-up with Iowa is a game where the Penn State coaching staff can show the Nittany Lion faithful that the program is headed in the right direction. On a side note Penn State fans would probably kill for a quarterback like Joe Kane who was the fictional character in the major motion picture "The Program". Sure Kane had his demons, but does he remind you of anyone? (Kerry Collins)? Kane came to play in big games and that's what both Penn State quarterbacks are lacking.
However, it's time to get back to reality and the reality is that Iowa is coming to Happy Valley this afternoon. It's also a pretty good chance that the above mentioned coaching staff will probably get out-coached by Kirk Ferentz, but only time will tell on that matter.
The Nittany Lions offense did not look good at all against Indiana and time and time again could not score in the redzone. Penn State was 0-5 in the Redzone Saturday against the Hoosiers.
Fans may ask themselves what is the problem? Derek Moye and Justin Brown are big targets at 6-5 and 6-3, and Silas Redd is a back that can run well between the tackles. Add two hard-running fullbacks in Joe Suhey and Michael Zordich and Penn State should have a recipe for success in the redzone.
The problem doesn't lie with the players that can score the touchdowns but with the players who help create the touchdowns. The Penn State offensive line just doesn't look tough enough in the trenches to battle with good opponents. They battled hard with 'Bama for one drive, which happened to be the opening drive of the game and since then they been nothing short of mediocre. The point being the offensive line needs to battle as hard on the last drive of the game as they did on the first and that is not happening in Happy Valley.
"Sometimes we've had a couple of really big league drives in tough situations, and the offensive line has done well, and then we fumble on the three-yard line, we throw an interception going in, or we get a holding penalty," said Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. It's been kind of tough on those kids. Then again, I think we're making progress. I think we've got to get better, but we're doing a lot of good things. The offensive line in some parts of the game, played very well (last week)."
Paterno may be right that the offensive line played well in some parts of last week's game, but it's become evident that this group hasn't put together four quarters of solid play all season. The cheerleading is great and I'm sure is a viable part of coaching at the collegiate level but Penn State needs to get back to the day when they would push opposing defenses off the ball. Teams simply do not fear the Lions up front anymore and that needs to change.
Now it's time to get back to the regular scheduled programming of the Penn State quarterback carousel, brought to you by quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator (passing plays only) Jay Paterno. As much as Penn State fans want Rob Bolden to morph into the leader and quarterback he was portrayed to be coming out of high school it just isn't happening. Bolden is only completing 45.9 percent of his passes and has only thrown one touchdown. Bolden also has the ability to tuck and run when defenses pressure him, but that aspect of his game has been extinct only rushing for eight yards on the season. The only logical explanation for Bolden starting is that Jay Paterno wants to prove to fans that he can mold an elite high school quarterback into an elite player in college. It's week six and both quarterbacks are far from elite.
Matt McGloin has expressed his frustration about not starting and last week may have (should) put him in that role this week against Iowa. It's widely known that McGloin plays good against bad teams, and bad against good teams, but he moves the ball on offense and has four touchdowns through the air to Bolden's one.
The Penn State defense will have their toughest test since Alabama against the Hawkeyes offense this afternoon. Iowa has a very efficient quarterback in James Vandenberg (81-129-1095-10 TD-1 INT) and talented running back in Marcus Coker (87-380-3 TD). Vandenberg also like to get the ball to wide receiver Marvin McNutt (25-413-4 TD) who can also make big plays for the Hawkeyes.
The Nittany Lion defense has been the glue that has kept this possible disaster of a season together. The PSU "D" is among tops in the nation once again in four major categories going into week six.
They rank fifth in the nation in total defense (250.4 ypg), sixth in pass defense (155.4 ypg), seventh in scoring (12.00 ppg) and eighth in pass efficiency defense (91.88). The only team to rush for more than 100 yards on the ground this season against the Lions were the Crimson Tide.
History says the Hawkeyes coming to town doesn't bode well for Nittany Lions fans (Iowa has beaten Penn State eight out of the last ten times they have played), but in order for Penn State to make a push towards a bowl game this is a must win for the Lions. Big wins haven't come often in Happy Valley over the past few years and there is nothing like a Penn State win over Iowa to get the Nittany Lions' heart beating once again.