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Kicking, offensive issues still plaguing PSU

Published September 24. 2011 09:01AM

Week three is in the books and Penn State football avoided a fan and media explosion last week squeaking out a win at Temple. That's not to say that Nittany Lions fans are thrilled about beating a team from the Mid American Conference, but when all is said and done they did get the win. Temple isn't all that bad, they were playing at home, and could very possibly win the MAC.

Most know, however, that Penn State needed an offensive break-out game and that didn't happen. There are still a host of issues plaguing the Nittany Lions with only two weeks until Big Ten play opens up at Indiana. Penn State is definitely running out of time.

The issue that seems to be a real problem at this point is the kicking game. Between kickers Evan Lewis and Sam Ficken Penn State is 1-of-6 kicking field goals this season with the only successful attempt being a 43-yarder against Alabama. Last week against Temple the Lions missed all three field goals they attempted (45,49,36) and also had a punt blocked. That, in turn, put an immense amount of pressure on the defense to have to come up with big play after big play to give PSU a chance to win.

"I'm very concerned about the kicking game, and we are trying to get better at it," said Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. "A couple of those kids do very well in practice, they get in the ball game and get a little uptight or I don't know what. Sometimes you've got to expect some of that. But having a blocked punt, that was just absolute carelessness on the part of one person who just had not had any problems prior to that. I think he just got a little bit nonchalant about it and hadn't been hurt and that kid came up and blocked it."

Whatever the issues may be Lewis and company need to get their act together in the kicking game. With the Penn State offense struggling to put points on the board the kicking game becomes an even more vital component.

The Penn State offense is still in a rut after week three and probably will play well against Eastern Michigan this week. The defense shouldn't have any problems with the Eagles and should set up Bolden and McGloin with good field position and plenty of downs.

That being said it would be nice to see somebody throw a touchdown pass. The Nittany Lions are the only team in the Big Ten to not throw a touchdown pass this season.

Week four will bring much of the same to PSU fans with Bolden and McGloin splitting time.

"I don't know what I'm waiting for," added Paterno. "I think both those kids (Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin) are so close and both those kids deserve to play. One of these days I would like to be able to say, 'Hey, we are going to play one quarterback.' But I want to be fair. As I said last week at the press conference, I said one thing I want to do is I want to be fair to them. I want to be fair to the team. If I felt that the team was much more comfortable with one than the other, then I'm repeating myself from last week that obviously would be a factor, but that's not the way it is."

Neither quarterback has been stunning to say the least, but Bolden (26-58-2-273) seems to possess a more viable skill set than McGloin (20-37-0-201). Unfortunately for Penn State fans Bolden hasn't seemed to mesh his physical attributes with mental stability on the field.

A solution to the offensive problem at Penn State could be in the form of running back Silas Redd. Redd just doesn't get the ball enough on offense, and should be used more in the Nittany Lions offensive scheme. The explosive back has rushed 50 times for 255 yards this season, scoring four touchdowns. In Penn State's three previous games Redd has only received 20 carries one time, which was against one of the toughest defenses in the country in Alabama.

Last week against Temple Redd rushed just 16 times and gained 86 yards. Against Indiana State Redd gained 104 yards on only 12 carries. Redd is a 20 carry- a-game back and should be given the opportunity to put the Nittany Lion offense on his back.

Week four of the Penn State schedule sees Eastern Michigan (2-1) coming to Happy Valley. This marks another week where the Penn State offense could gain some confidence going into the Big Ten opener at Indiana next Saturday.

The Penn State defense should look to feast on the Eastern Michigan offense. The Lions have done pretty well handling the run all year and will have to stay consistent with the Eagles, who rank sixth in the entire FBS in rushing at 289.7 yards per game. Their passing attack however, poses little threat to the PSU secondary, averaging just 68.3 yards per game. The Penn State front four should apply enough pressure to Eagles quarterback Alex Gillet to create some Eastern Michigan turnovers, which hopefully the Lions offense can take advantage of this week.

Heading into week four a lot of questions need to be answered with this Penn State football team. Although the Nittany Lions play Eastern Michigan Saturday and Indiana next week, PSU fans won't really know how bad things are until Penn State hosts Iowa on Oct. 8. Iowa has had the Nittany Lions number over the years and fans can expect the same result if certain issues don't get resolved in the upcoming weeks.

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