While this loss doesn't sting nearly as much as the Illinois loss, it still hurts. Many of us thought Penn State had a chance to pull the upset. Everything was in place. It was senior day. A chance to ruin Sparty's season. We don't like Mike Dantonio and his timeouts. Despite coming on strong late (thanks to team MVP Derek Moye), the game was already decided.
The 2010 season is something we will reflect on in the coming weeks. We will have the entire off-season to rage on about who the 2011 QB should be. Currently only two houses are on that block, but i'm sure some upstart blogger will try to force the "Paul Jones for QB" campaign on us soon enough (not to be confused with the "I know someone, who knows someone, who walked past someone, that knows JoePa is going to retire after the Bowl Game" fodder).
Matt McGloin has some very deceiving numbers. If you didn't watch the game on Saturday and picked up the sports section on Sunday and read 23-43, 312 yards, 2 TDS, 1 INT - you might assume McGloin had a great game in a PSU win. Despite becoming the only QB in PSU history to throw for 300+ yards in back to back games, McGloin did not have his best day in Blue and White.
The blame can't be placed on his shoulders alone. He was a victim of some self induced bad throws/timing (opening drive delay of game), untimely drops (Brett Brackett), consistent penalties (Quinn Barham), weather (wind, but Cousins didn't seem to have a problem exploiting the black hole that was the middle of the PSU defense), and solid defensive plays (Johnny Adams). In any event, the Nittany Lion pass game locked out of wack for three quarters before finally turning it on in the fourth. McGloin made a throw to Devon Smith in the first quarter that i'm not sure any other QB currently on the active roster would have been able to make. It took touch, accuracy, and timing: things McGloin has surprisingly improved on since the Spring, to the Minnesota game, till now.
The Twitterverse was loudly calling for Rob Bolden to get into the game when the offense was struggling. Wisely, Joe Paterno and company decided to stick with McGloin. At this point in the season, it wouldn't have made any sense to insert Bolden for a few plays here and there. No longer is he the number one cheerleader on the sideline. When the camera pans to the PSU sideline, he is seen looking visibly "checked out" and not excited. However, I do think Bolden should get some reps during the bowl game, especially if there is any chance the coaching staff is going to re-open the starting competition in the Spring (ala Daryll Clark in the Alamo Bowl a few years back).
Final Grade: C
Evan Royster capped his senior day with 85 yards on 14 carries and one very tough TD run. The opening series provided some hope that Penn State would be able to run on the MSU defense, but getting down early forced Penn State to abandon any consistent running attack and forced McGloin to make plays (21 runs to 43 pass plays). For the season, Royster is 84 yards shy of his third consecutive 1,000 yard season (916 yards). While Evan hasn't had the type of season he had hoped for, it has been a pleasure watching him for the past four season. The debate of his place in the Penn State pantheon will be discussed in the coming weeks, but hopefully Royster will be to carve up an SEC defense the way Tony Hunt did on his way out the door.
The more we see Silas Redd, the more reasons we have to think he is going to be a special player. If Penn State won the game, Redd's six yard run would be playing on a highlight reel. He has moves we haven't seen from a starting RB in quite some time. Redd finished the day with 7 yards on 3 carries, but again, Penn State need to air it out to have a chance of coming back.
Final Grade: B-
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Brown led the way for the Nittany Lions with 106 yards on six catches, but it was Derek Moye that once again stole the show.
Moye finished with only 65 yards on 5 catches, but it was a TD catch that was ruled incomplete that will have fans licking their lips for 2011. Moye also had one of the best hustle plays of the year, for any team. Following a McGloin INT in the end zone, the MSU defender decided to try and make a big play (instead of taking a knee and ending the ball game) and ran the ball outside of the end zone, where Moye stripped him and recovered the fumble which set up Moye's four yard TD catch. For the season Moye has 806 yards and 7 TDs (16.8 yards per catch). McGloin's (or Bolden, or Jones) WRs next year should be a strength for the Nittany Lions. With Zug (5-55) and Bracket (2-23, and one brutal drive killing drop) graduating, the Nits will turn to Moye, Brown, Devon Smith (2-26), the returning Curtis Drake (how soon we forget), Shawney Kersey, and potentially State College speedster Alex Kenney. Throw in a receiving FB like Joey Shuey (1-25, TD) and the future is bright...
Kevin Haplea (1-14) made an appearance and disproved any notions that Penn State didn't have any TEs.
Final Grade: B
Quinn Barham picked a bad time to have his worst day of his career. His false starts and holding penalty really put Penn State in a hole.
Early in the game, the O-Line did a nice job of opening up holes for Royster and getting into the second level. But with Penn State trailing most of the game, the play calls shifted to passes and the did a decent job in pass protection (like they have all season). McGloin was sacked once, but Sparty wasn't able to get too much pressure on Mac.
Congratulations to Stefen Wisniewski for becoming the first 3-time Academic All-American in Penn State and NCAA history. Wisniewski is the poster boy for JoePa's Grand Experiment and will likely be an NFL prospect. Wisniewski took success with honor literally, and we should all be very proud.
Final Grade: B-
Once again, the coaches put the players in a position to succeed, but the execution, especially mentally, just wasn't there. The penalties came at bad times, and Penn State had to abandon the run game early. It wouldn't be the 2010 season unless we had a had scratching play call, and the MSU game was no different. On 3rd and 1 of the opening drive of the second half in Michigan State territory, Penn State elected to do a hybrid reverse to Smith that lost 9 yards. At the time, Penn State was already down 14-3. They needed points on the drive. To call that play, in that situation was questionable. Of course, if it worked, everyone would say they were geniuses - but it didn't, so public opinion starts getting throw around.
Final Grade: B
It looks like we are going to be in for another exciting off-season. From now until August 1, 2011, speculation regarding JoePa retiring will dominate the blogs and MSM. The irony of the situation; who would have guessed Joe would still be at the helm and the Stache is potentially on his way out in Pittsburgh?
We'll get to see anther QB derby, a GOAT RB debate (Royster vs. Curt Warner, Lenny Moore (my choice), and company), and the recruiting "down year" according to people that know little about anything.
It should be fun. Till the bowl game...