We all know what they say: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Today, I'm looking at the statistics from the first two games to see if there are offensive trends that may not be apparent from simply watching.
Trend #1: Our quarterbacks have locked on to Allen Robinson
Much like last year with Derek Moye, Matt McGloin has found his favorite receiver and his name is Allen Robinson. The receiver repeatedly praised by his quarterback and head coach has received the lion's share (pun not intended) of the targets this season, hauling in 19 catches for 186 yards and 1 touchdown. Number 8 has been thrown to an incredible 32 times. That's more than the next two receivers combined (Kyle Carter with 14, and Shawney Kersey with 13). Allen is on pace to be targeted an astonishing 192 times this season and catch 114 passes. For a historical comparison, Derek Moye was targeted 84 times last season caught 40 balls for 654 yards and three touchdowns.
Trend #2: This is not your father's Penn State Offense.
When your father was your age, Penn State ran the ball constantly, especially in the second half... blah blah blah. Who cares grandpa? Sheesh. Well, maybe we should care. Take a trip with me down memory lane. Last season, in Penn State's four losses combined, Penn State rushed the ball 73 times in the second half. In none of those games did Penn State have a lead going into half time. In the first two games of this season, Penn State has rushed the ball a combined 21 times in the second half and had the lead going into the third quarter both times. There have only been twelve third-quarter rushes all season--six in each game. Looking at the play distribution, we see a startling trend emerging: as the game progresses, Bill O'Brien calls pass plays more and more. In the first half this season, Penn State has gained 406 yards, scored three touchdowns and missed two field goals. The play distribution? 40 runs, 48 passes. Conversely, in the third quarter (where the wheels have fallen off): 132 yards, zero touchdowns, and one missed field goal on 12 rushes and 20 passes. And finally, the fourth quarter: 168 yards, one touchdown, and one missed field goal on 9 runs and 20 passes. Let me say that again: nine runs. Nine. So clearly, this is not the "wear you down" offense your father watched on the old black-and-white.
Trend #3: McGloin is actually playing rather well.
So what do you call a quarterback who complete's 60% of his passes on third down, has four touchdowns to only one interception, and has thrown for 450 yards in two games? Underachieving, of course. Ok look, I know that for most of you, Matt McGloin is the next Brett Favre without the armstrength. His mouth runneth over. A lot. For every good play, McMoxie throws five picks against Florida. But, seriously, the kid has been having a halfway decent statistical season in a very complex offense. Let's disregard the praise heaped upon him by his head coach and teammates. Let's ignore the leadership he seems to display on the field. Let's just push that all aside and look at the pure unadulterated statistics. Matt McGloin is having a good first two games people. Bear in mind that Penn State doesn't have a player who's rushed for 100 yards this season... combined. So the guy is literally carrying an offense on his "walk on" shoulders and doing it well. 18 of 30 on third down. Four touchdown passes. 45 of 84 overall. His one dent in the armor? He's 11 of 25 on second down. But his running backs' production drops from 4.3 yards per carry on first down to 2.9 on second down, so let's cut the kid some slack. No one on Penn State's offense is doing well on down #2. So in sum, McGloin is actually playing pretty well all things considered.
We'll see if these trends continue, but I think there is reason to believe this team has improved and will continue to do so. Things are never as bad as they seem or as good as you hope. This has been another friendly post from the Lion In The Weeds.