Penn State's 41-31 victory over Michigan on Saturday was a team effort. For the first time all year, all aspects of the offense were clicking.
Making his first career start, Matt McGloin did everything he needed to and was asked to do. "Mac" put his "I'm going deep" membership in his back pocket and took what the Michigan defense, which didn't seem to do anything well on Saturday, gave him.
McGloin was a enthusiastic 17-28 for 250 yards 1 TD and more importantly, no INTs. Mac played beyond a lot of his critics expectations. Kirk Herbstreit said Penn State would not be able to move the ball offensively with Matt Mcgloin at QB. Well Herby, it looks you couldn't have been more wrong. On this night, McGloin was McAwesome.
McGloin spread the ball around to eight different receivers. One of the game changing plays of the game was Mac's 11 yard first down scramble on third down during the opening drive of the game. That play kept that drive alive and Evan Royster eventually punched the ball in for six. McGloin was poised with a capital P. But don't let the win cloud your mind...the offensive line finally coming together and opening running lanes was one of the biggest reasons for the team's success on Saturday. Would Bolden have been able to do what McGloin did? Possibly. This is Rob Bolden's team. He was the chosen one at the start of the season and will continue to be next week against Northwestern. What Penn State did find out on Saturday is that they have a more than capable backup, in the Jonathan Moxon mold.
Now it's official: Kevin Newsome has zero chance of ever starting a game at QB for Penn State.
The Evan Royster we saw on Saturday was the Evan Royster of old, right down to the spin move. Royster shook off the "he can't perform in big games" tag (at least for one night) and really delivered for the Nittany Lions. Royster finished with 150 yards on a career high 29 carries and two TDs. The biggest difference from Saturday's Rosyter and the rest of the season's Royster was the offensive line gave him some room to run - and he showed he still has the moves to make teams pay. Not to be lost in the shuffle of the big win against Michigan, Evan Royster finally passed Curt Warner as the all-time leading rusher at Penn State. Congratulations Evan.
It took eight games, but true freshman Silas Redd finally passed Stephfon Green as the number two RB on the depth chart. Green did not have a single carry on Saturday, while Redd finished with 24 yards on six carries (one of which was a reverse LaVar Arrington jumping run into the defensive line. It's refreshing to see the coaches are willing to get the best players on the field, regardless if they are a true freshman or not.
It's been said before, so i'll be brief - I love Michael Zordich as the starting fullback for this Penn State team. Zordich gives the power dimension you want to have from the fullback position. I'm not saying he is Sam Gash, but he is no doubt a player.
This Zug is for you. Graham Zug, who was about as much of a non-factor in the passing game as a former starter could be, finally remove the cement from his hands and had a big game. Zug had three catches for 32 yards and a TD. Two of his catches came on third down plays which kept the drive alive. Hopefully Graham can build on this game.
McGloin did his best to spread the ball around against a Michigan defense that would have made Bo Schembechler cringe. Devon Smith (2-50), Justin Brown (1-15, the most important catch of the game), Brett Brackett (3-37), and the receiving fullback Joe Shuey (3-32) all got involved. Derek Moye was again the leading receiver for the Lions (3-72), which included a 40 yard grab in the second half that could have went to either team. The biggest difference for this group was that they weren't plagued by the dropsies.
I'm actually smiling as I type this. The offensive line were the players of the game. For the first time all season, Evan Royster had running lanes. All season long this group has been whipped, poked, judged, and cursed. Well against Michigan, this group came together. Johnnie Troutman looked like a bulldozer most of the night. He was destroying the man in front of him and allowed Royster to break off a couple of big runs. Hopefully Saturday's game is a sign of things to come and not just a Halloween trick.
The coaches called the perfect game plan against Michigan. They knew the offense needed to put up over 30 points to win the game and they developed a game plan to deliver that. The coaches must have saw something on tape, because they did an awful lot of motioning. Greg Robinson showed again just how much fun it is to play against his defense. The win on Saturday made it three in a row against Michigan. We'll have to wait until 2013 to see the Wolverines again, but until then, we get to savor the W.
This was a total team effort on Saturday, so that's how the team will get graded.
Final Grade: A
The stadium was rocking on Saturday night. The students brought their A game, regardless of "Project 7." Michigan fans do travel well. That was perhaps the most fans from a visiting team I have ever seen. I haven't heard any horror stories yet, but hopefully Penn State fans showed some Happy Valley hospitality.
Winner for best Halloween costume:
To the guy dressed up as Alan Garner from "The Hangover", complete with man purse (presumably with Skittles in it), a baby wearing sun glasses, and white pants. While enjoying an adult beverage, a police officer approached the guy because he thought the baby was real.