Happy belated Turkey Day Penn Staters! I hope your bellies are full and you're ready for naps, Iron Bowl and leftovers today. It was pretty fun rewatching last week's game vs. the Hoosiers, because it filled in quite a few gaps. Having tuned up at the DC AA happy hours Friday night (where I helped DJ Dozier carry a cooler out of a bar--a very cool treat for this longtime fan) and boarded our party bus at 8a, I was doin' fine and on a mission. We had a beautiful sunny day at Fedex Field and yours truly was making his way around the stadium trying to meet up with some of you fine people. Unfortunately my 400 level tickets weren't *elite* enough (nor my sneakeration savvy enough) for me to get up the 300 level escalator to catch up with spak, rah and others. However--and let this be a lesson to you younger party people out there--my sticktuitiveness paid off with a sweet reward, as my brother and I were able to meet up with some lovely BSDivas after the game. PSUesq, Desire'nLion and Row73Fan were quick with a beer and long with the smiles, and I can't wait to swing by their tailgates in the future. Thanks, BSDivas! Anyway, the game, yeah, I rewatched it this week and liked some of what I saw. There's not too much in the vault this week, being turkey day and all, but let's take a look.
Gerald Hodges Brings Some Wood
Hodges looked the best he has all season last week. I'm liking his stance, very catlike and ready to pounce. He also conveys a confidence that the coaches have been saying all year was all this guy needed to develop--a confident understanding of where he needs to be so that the game slows down for him. The same can't be said for Duwyce Wilson, who felt Hodges' game speed on this hit:
Andrew Dailey Earns Big 10 Special Teams Player of the Week
With a little help from Nathan Stupar. Mike asked for a frame by frame breakdown of the game-changing punt block and touchdown return, so I tried my hand at it here. Please pardon the lack of real football jargon. Frame 1 shows us pre-snap and we've got 5 guys attacking the punter, which they are defending with 3 along the line of scrimmage and 3 in a wedge about 6-7 yards from the line. Our guys from left to right are Dailey (13), Stupar (34), Mike Yancich (sans headphones) (33), Mike Zordich (9), and Jamie Van Fleet (54). The first thing I noticed was what a nice jump on the snap count Stupar got.
Frame 2 shows us just after the snap and the second thing I noticed was the jump that Yancich did NOT get. He was the last to get off the line:
In Frame 3, it's become clear that they are allowing both Stupar and Dailey to advance to the second level of defense untouched, while they protect against Yancich, Zordich and Van Fleet. We also see the first signs of the poor snap from the punter himself as his right leg extends inside the hash marks and bends to lower his hips. The ball is just above the zero in the the 20yard label at this point:
By Frame 4, it's even more clear things are going wrong for Indy. You can see the punter is two steps inside the hash marks where he had originally lined up to receive the snap. The offensive linemen decided to doubleteam Yancich and leave the other lone lineman to take on Van Fleet and Zordich, who is making his way free around the punter's left side and occupying the sole attention of one of the three wedge defenders. I also think Stupar has made up his mind at this point that, with Dailey on his outside left, he's going to attack the center of the wedge with force:
Frame 5 shows his success in so doing. Both the center and outside right man attempt to block him (and nearly don't). At this point, Dailey is about four yards from the ball and has already broken down into the necessary angle to get him there: knees bent, hips fluid (/nfl combine'd). Zordich is engaged by wedge defender #3, Van Fleet is getting stood up by his man and Yancich may be switching his thinking to punt return blocking:
Frame 6 shows the imminent fail of Indiana's punt. Dailey is about to take the ball of the punter's foot, Stupar has emerged completely on the other side of the wedge meant to deny him, with Zordich occupying its remains, and Van Fleet's guy is about to commence punt return pursuit, totally unaware that there will be none. At this point, too, it's a matter of vision for our best hope to pick up the ball, and Van Fleet has a clear view and beats Stupar to the find:
In Frame 7, that's the punter on his back, the ball on the 20 about to be scooped by Van Fleet, and Dailey's destruction remains blocking Stupar from the scoop, but not from the sightline of his teammate's coverage of the ball. Stupar here switches thinking to more blocking:
A couple soft and kind bounces and another nice Stupar block, and Van Fleet has a clear lane to the end zone:
This play broke the 24-24 deadlock, gave the Penn State offense some momentum that they turned into another 10 points and provided further inspiration to the D, who held Indiana's potent offense to only 3 more first downs and zero points the rest of the way.
In full speed: