I think this might be becoming a weekly installment since BSD doesn't do the post-game grades anymore like they did through last year. As a BSDer, I'll take over the grading duties at least for now, anyway. One thing to be aware of, I see myself as a tough, but honest grader. I expect Penn State to play their best and I give credit when it's due, but if I see problems, I won't give them an "A" for effort. I also grade based on expectations of the team (for example, they got a decent grade last year for their Michigan State game but they got a bad grade in 2009 for the Iowa game despite both being similar)
UPDATE: 10/15/11: In retrospect, I knew Alabama was good, but they're better than we thought, we held them to their lowest point total so far and we're the only team that made them look mortal so far, so although we didn't win, we didn't do QUITE as horrible as I thought at the time, so it's time for a grade boost
F D-: I was not pleased with the effort that this team put together. While I saw a loss as not only a real possibility, but as something equally as likely to happen as a win, I didn't see us falling apart the way we did in this game. I didn't see a team that looked like they gave Alabama their best game and happened to come up short, I saw a team that had a few nice moments overshadowed by a team that just looked beat. In general, the offense couldn't stay on the field, the defense couldn't get off of it, and I saw some mistakes made that reminded me too much of last year. I'm especially frustrated because I had hoped that those types of mistakes were long behind us. Most frustrating aspect of the game was field position. Even though the Tide had a benefit with field position like Ohio State 2009, at least we usually forced Ohio Statte to punt that day, in this game they'd just march downfield. Most punts were forced when Alabama had to start behind the 40. (Bart Simpson: I got a D-minus! I got a D-minus! I passed! I passed!)
0 F: Yes, that is a zero an F for offense. I do give out grades worse than F if deserved (and even negative grades like last year against Illinois). In reality, I'd give the running game a 0 but give Silas Redd himsself a D+ and the passing game a -1. Amazingly, the offensive line's pass protection looked a little better this week, but I still saw Bolden and McGloin getting hurried all game long and taking a few hits. Bolden only had one interception, but there were a few near-interceptions including one that was overturned. That should be a concern. But not as big of a concern as McGloin going 1-10 for 0 yards. Silas Redd was the only player that looked good at times, but he didn't seem to have any help. And we can't forget the Andrew Szczerba fumble that crippled any momentum we might have had remaining. Nice drive at the end, but it looked like the Tide were in a prevent defense (even though it was still their starting defense). Also, Curtis Dukes and Stepfhon Green were nowhere to be found. I assume the latter is still in the doghouse after buying Anthony Fera more mango rum.
D- C- C+: By far the best part of the performance yesterday and still not good enough. To their credit they did hold Alabama to well under 400 yards and did a much better job against Trent Richardson than last year, but it still wasn't good enough. Eddie Lacy had almost 100 yards himself. The defense gave up 196 yards rushing, but the secondary was a little better. (Actually we played like champs, not chumps on defense) Unfortunately, they made AJ McCarron look like a superstar decent quarterback at times. He may turn out to be really good, but what I saw was a defense that looked inconsistent. Defense had three and outs this time around, even stuffing Richardson behind the line of scrimmage, which is praiseworthy. Despite getting in the backfield against Richardson, still struggled to get pressure on McCarron. No sacks and only one QB hit all game. They really made themselves look much better than they really were against Indiana State. Despite stuffing Richardson a few times, they let him get loose a few times. (I gave this a grade boost because of the fact that most of Alabama's scores came against a short field) (Defense actually looked slightly above average in this game)
Special Teams - F: Does anyone notice a pattern with our special teams unit in big games? No good kick returns, no punt returns to amount to much, a lot of fair catches and a few non-catches where the ball rolled too far downfield. Still better than the 09 unit much of the time, but we could have used a great ST unit. No touchbacks when they would have been beneficial and too many touchbacks when pinning the Tide would have been a better option. Plus we can't forget that really long punt return given up. Evan Lewis, who looked awful last week, was the best part of the special teams unit with his field goal that gave Penn State a very temporary lead. Too much pressure on the punter, I kept worrying that an Iowa 2009 would happen, except that all it would have done is drive the stake in our hearts even faster in this game. I thought Anthony Fera being back would make a difference but he didn't look much better than Alex Butterworth. At times it looked like Fera loaded up on mango rum right before the game. At least Evan Lewis wasn't kicking off in this game. (Sorry, special teams, no soup for you, NEXT! But at least it's a high F now not a low F)
Gameball goes to - Trent Richardson: I hate to admit it, but even with half the yards he had last year, he was still the team's workhorse and a big part of their offense with his 111 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
It was over when: Andrew Szczerba fumbled at the 50 yard line after we got some momentum back midway through the second quarter. Soon afterwards, 10-3 became 17-3.
Next Opponent - Temple: Before this game, I was pretty confident that we'd be able to handle Temple, but I think now it'll be like last year's nailbiter. I don't put much stock in their 41-3 win over Akron because Ohio State beat them 42-0 yet struggled with Toledo, so maybe Akron is atrocious.
Let me know what you think of the grades. Accurate? Fair? Too harsh? Too generous?