Week two of the Penn State Nittany Lions football season showed a lot of people a lot of alarming things that maybe PSU faithful have been in denial about for a long time.
The first thing PSU fans need to realize is at this time the Lions are a middle of the road Big Ten team. Every year they are shoved into the pre-season rankings, most of the time being ranked anywhere from 20-25, and it gives Penn State fans false hope heading into the season. Don't get me wrong, the Lions are usually a top 40 team and based on talent they should be a top 25 team, but last Saturday showed they don't belong anywhere near the top 25.
Let's take a look back at Saturday's game against the Crimson Tide that may serve as the game that Penn State fans look back on and say "That was the game when I knew PSU football needed some big changes and new leaders."
The timeout issue on the first offensive drive of the game, which happened to be Penn State's most successful drive, was agonizing. The Lions used three timeouts in that drive and for those of you who don't know football, three timeouts is all a team gets in the first half. The problem lies with the uncanny offensive coordinating system where PSU has two coaches calling plays. One coach calling run (Galen Hall) and the other calling the pass plays (Jay Paterno). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that once PSU assistant Mike McQueary gets the call from up in the box and signals it into the quarterback that time may be an issue. Add 108,000 screaming fans and the Alabama defense and that is no doubt a recipe for disaster.
Quarterback Rob Bolden got the start against the Tide and looked good on the first drive of the game but once again as he did against 'Bama last year couldn't push the ball into the red zone. Everybody noticed Matt McGloin's less than fascinating effort going 1-10 with zero yards passing. McGloin has been under a lot of scrutiny since last week's game, some deservingly so and some not so deserving. Fans cannot blame McGloin for trying to live his dream of being the starting QB at Penn State. They can blame him, however, for not showing up against elite teams and McGloin showed that he doesn't belong on the field against Alabama-caliber opponents.
Wide receiver Derek Moye is heralded in most college football circles as a first or second round draft pick in 2012. Moye had every opportunity to show scouts and fans Saturday that he was big time and did nothing of the sort. Nobody criticizes Moye and they need to because with his abilities he should be playing a lot better and Alabama was the perfect stage to do so.
A positive that can be taken from Saturday was the Penn State defense. They held their own against a stacked 'Bama offensive line and kept Trent Richardson in check for the most part. DT Devon Still showed he has improved and his NFL stock is rising. The defense as a whole showed that they have improved from last season but does it really matter? The Nittany Lions don't sack the QB enough, blitz enough, or make big plays in the secondary enough to beat a team like Alabama. They are too conservative and it showed that if a team plays conservative against a club like 'Bama they will wear their opponent down and win by multiple touchdowns.
It was evident Saturday that the Alabama coaching staff is flat out a better staff than Penn State. That is unacceptable to PSU fans and alumni and quite frankly should be. Penn State has a rich and storied tradition and the 108,000 fans in the stands last Saturday and the people watching at home deserve better than the product that was on the field against Alabama. It is no longer the 1980's and it's time for a new regime in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions are just 0-9 against top-five opponents and 3-12 against the top-ten since 2000.
Moving on to this week's opponent the Temple Owls. The Owls came into Happy Valley last year and almost went back to Broad Street in Philadelphia with a win. Penn State edged out the Owls 22-13 last season, but bring a much better defense to the table this time around.
Temple running back Bernard Pierce is no slouch at all and the PSU front four need to play with the same urgency they played with last week. Pierce has had a good year thus far rushing 38 times for 297 yards and six touchdowns. The Owls' passing game is average at best and maybe the secondary can finally make some big plays to give Bolden and McGloin good field position.
The Penn State offense needs to use this week's match-up with Temple to get back on track. The Temple defense has only given up an average of 5.0 points per game so far against Villanova and Akron, but one would think that Penn State should be able to run the ball successfully with Silas Redd.
Joe Paterno said at his weekly press conference that both quarterbacks will play against Temple. Rob Bolden is expected to start the game and that has been the routine the last two weeks. PSU fans are still waiting for a No. 1 QB to emerge and even though McGloin's performance was terrible last week Bolden didn't do much either.
The game atmosphere is expected to be lively once again this week with the game being played at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Let's just hope the Lions save at least one timeout for the second quarter.