Nittany Lions try to stay on track against Northwestern
Looking back on the Penn State season thus far it's evident that the Nittany Lions have once again produced a talented, stubborn, and hard-nosed defense. Unfortunately, the offensive coaching staff looks to be just as stubborn and hard-nosed, but not in a good way. The meat of the Penn State Big Ten schedule is looming and the Lions recent wins could very well turn into losses if the offense doesn't get the ball rolling in the upcoming weeks.
The concerns with the Nittany Lions offense and offensive staff has been about the only consistent thing about that unit this season. The quarterback position has not improved one bit from the first game of the year. Every week the offense looks average at best, but before what seems to be a weekly critique of Bolden and McGloin, let's get into some of the positives from the offense.
The offensive line really seems to be coming into their own blocking for running back Silas Redd and are giving McGloin and Bolden decent time in the pocket to make plays down field (even though they're not making them). Speaking of Silas Redd this marks the third consecutive game where Redd has rushed for over 100 yards. He is the first Nittany Lion to do so since Evan Royster in 2009. Redd has put together a nice sophomore campaign up to this point rushing for 705 yards on 147 carries, while scoring five touchdowns.
Wide receiver Justin Brown is also starting to acclimate himself as a reliable target in the passing game. Last week against Purdue Brown caught four balls for a career-high 86 yards. Brown (23-331) is also starting to inch closer to Derek Moye (28-485) , who is tops this season in receiving yards for the Nittany Lions.
Moye who is out again this week with a broken foot really puts a damper on the Penn State offense with not being able to play. The Nittany Lions have a hard enough time putting the ball in the endzone without their 6-5 receiving target.
"He was at the practice yesterday without football gear on," said Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. Derek is anxious to get in and I don't think we're going to have him for another couple of weeks. I'm reluctant to say how long because he's one of those kids. He's a big, lanky kid, has no extra weight and he's got a very conservative life style. I think he's got a chance to maybe come back quicker than we would think he would."
Moye getting back into the lineup is a necessity for Penn State with a host of big-time defenses still remaining on the schedule. Not to mention McGloin and Bolden could use all the help they can get. Staying on the topic of the quarterback scenario at Penn State or as I call it "The Jay of Our Lives", which is the soap opera that seems to best describe the quarterback carousel.
Jay Paterno usually lays out his programming as follows: He starts Bolden, but then brings in McGloin. Then brings in Bolden and then as of late is finishing off games with McGloin. I think Jay needs to sit down with his writers (coaching staff) and hash out a new script for the rest of the season. Here would be a dramatic twist for this week's program, which is airing in primetime. How about Coach Jay Paterno starts one quarterback and sticks with that guy for the entire game. Trust me coach the ratings cannot get any worse.
This week the Nittany Lions will be going to Northwestern (7 p.m. Big Ten Network, Blue Ridge Cable does not carry BTN). Luckily for the Penn State offense the Northwestern defense has not played well at all. The Wildcats are ranked 88th defensively in points per game giving up 30 points a contest. The Penn State rushing attack should be able to chew up yards with Northwestern giving up 172.2 rushing yards per game. There is room for success for Bolden and McGloin, because the Wildcats are giving up almost 260 yards through the air. Overall the Penn State offense will have their opportunities Saturday night, it's just a matter of if they will take advantage of those opportunities.
A team that creates turnovers usually always has a good chance of winning a football game and that's exactly what the Penn State defense has been able to do this season. The Nittany Lions have 17 takeaways already in 2011 matching their season total of a year ago. As long as the "D" keeps creating turnovers the Nittany Lions will continue to be in the hunt for the Big Ten title.
There actually is an interesting twist for this weekend's game at Northwestern. Liberty High School standout quarterback Dan Persa may have a score to settle with Joe Paterno and the NIttany Lions. Penn State never really took a serious look at Persa back when he was tearing up the Lehigh Valley Conference. Persa has put up good numbers in his career at Northwestern and not recruiting him could come back to haunt the Nittany Lions if the Wildcats can pull out a victory.