Seems to be one of the biggest "problems" in yesterday's game was a lack of consistency. That first scoring drive was methodical and daring, at the same time. Yes, timeouts were used, but my hope was that first drive would become a template for our offense for the remainder of the game. Then, of course, came the takeaway by our defense on UVA's first possession. Again, my hopes were built for a solid game plan for the entire 60 minutes.
Instead, things became erratic. The defense would play solidly, then give up a 3rd and 20. The offense was given great field position, but the gains were miniscule. The kicking game -- the best I can say is, that game is behind us and hopefully the kickers (both punter and FG kicker) find some confidence and steadiness.
What's my point? My point is, I believe we are seeing the birthing pains that naturally come from a new coaching staff implementing new schemes, with players who have been through an emotional firestorm and who therefore are thinking too much and reacting too little. Personally, I believe that victory in football comes from building muscle memory and reaction time so that, in games, moves are instinctive and fast. A guard who has to think on every play about his blocking assignments will find that the defensive tackle is living in his QB's pocket. Likewise the coaches have to learn what works against each opponent and what doesn't, while constantly evaluating each player's performance and progress. It's a learning curve for them as well.
So my outlook is optimistic. We've seen some wrinkles and daring on offense that are interesting, we've seen players like Bench make contributions, and we've seen the defense (esp. the front seven) begin to exhibit some of the dominance we expect from a Penn State defense.
I am not known for my optimism, but I think this team can end up anywhere from 6 - 6 to 8 - 4, helped by what looks like a weak B1G. After all the turmoil of the last year, being close to .500 is enough. (And I refuse to look beyond this season: "Sufficient unto each day is the evil thereof.")