After Saturday's sobering 44-24 loss to Indiana, this week's reader question was, "why do we suck?" BSD Film Room posits that the offense, by scoring just 7 first half points, failed in its mission. Indiana didn't have much confidence entering this game - they couldn't, logically. Penn State, with the way the defense played in the first half, could have given the Hoosiers every reason to despair, and quit. Early. It didn't work out that way, of course, in part because we helped them make a game of it.
Kill The Lights
Possession #1 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 22||1||Run||3x1 Shotgun||Inside zone||12|
|2||1||10||PSU 34||1||Run||3x1 Shotgun||Inside zone||1|
|3||2||9||PSU 35||1||Run||3x1 Shotgun||End Around||10|
|4||1||10||PSU 45||1||Pass||3x2 Shotgun||Hitch||0|
|5||2||10||PSU 45||1||Pass||3x2 Shotgun||WR Screen||1|
|6||3||9||PSU 46||1||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Comeback||11|
|7||1||10||IND 43||1||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Hook||9|
|8||2||1||IND 34||1||Run||2x1 Shotgun||Inside zone||3|
|9||1||10||IND 31||1||Derp||2x2 Shotgun||Bad Play Action||-2|
|10||2||12||IND 33||1||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||WR Screen||0|
|11||3||12||IND 33||1||Pass||3x2 Shotgun||WR Screen||7|
|12||4||5||IND 26||1||Pass||3x2 Shotgun||Out||0|
Penn State received the kickoff to start the game, and went 55 yards on 12 plays. BOB called 4 runs on 1st or 2nd down, and 5 passes - that's about as balanced as you can get.
One of the key components to BOB's gameplan was the Inside Zone run. BOB chose to spread the IU defense out by using shotgun spread formations - get the extra IU defenders out of the tackle box, and gash the porous Hoosier run D, in a similar fashion to how Missouri had done it just two weeks prior (when they ran for 280 yards). Hooray for logic, common sense, and the ability to do different things on offense.
Indiana, though, also looked at their performance against Missouri, and made a gamble: we have to play man coverage on the outside, and take our chances there, rather than get our guts ripped out versus the run. In the shot below, snap #2, that's exactly what the Hoosiers attempt. They're locked up in man coverage across the board with just a single high safety in the middle of the field (not pictured, of course). This allows them to keep 7 in the box, against 6 blockers from Penn State. And, by the way, take a look at the heads of the Indiana DBs, and where they're pointing. They're all looking into the backfield, anxious about needing to support the run on the edges.
The DT with the orange asterisk gets push in the middle versus RG Urschel and RT Gress, though he stays blocked. But the damage is done. Zwinak pauses to cut back outside to his right, away from that DT, but can't, because the un-blocked defender - the OLB with orange asterisk - has come down hard from the edge. Zwinak burrows forward with that OLB hanging onto his ankle, for a gain of 1 yard.
Below is snap #9. This is supposed to be play action, on 1st down from the IU 31. Given how IU is choosing to play defense - man up, sell out to stop the run - we have a solid chance for a big play. Unfortunately, we derp. Hack play fakes to Zwinak, and accidentally loses the football. Zwinak, who is stepping forward to pick up a blitz from the Hoosier MLB, suddenly finds that he has the football between his elbow and ribs. Zwinak covers it, and gets stuffed for a loss of 2 yards.
We lose our shot at the big play, and get saddled with a 2nd and long to boot. Insult on top of injury. Hack overthrows Robinson on a WR screen the next snap - and now we sit with a 3rd and 12. BOB, wanting to score points, treats the 3rd and 12 like it's 2nd down. A WR screen to Lewis on the opposite side nets 7 yards, leaving just 5 yards on 4th down.
BOB spreads out IU with an empty backfield, 3x2 shotgun spread formation, and puts All Big Ten WR Allen Robinson in the near slot, where he is matched up against Indiana's true freshman inside linebacker in man coverage (below). You might disagree, but that's seems like a smart design and good bet to me. Robinson runs an out just past the sticks, and either he gets his feet tangled up with the ILB, or gets tackled before the ball reaches him. Either way, Hack's pass falls incomplete, and there is no pass interference penalty. Turnover on downs.
Quick Defensive Interlude
If we need to fawn over a defensive end, can it at least be Anthony Zettel? The dude's motor is outstanding. He runs everywhere, on every snap.
This is 3rd down on IU's first possession. Zettel is playing RDE, and gets off the ball with the rest of his line mates. The IU left tackle's base is too wide, unless he has an invisible commode behind him.
Zettel fakes inside, freezing the LT.
Zettel comes back outside, and slaps the LT's outside shoulder.
Then Zettel "dips", and "runs the arc". He's dipping his inside (left) shoulder and getting low in order to present zero surface area for the LT to punch. It's beautiful.
Zettel beats the LT like a drum, keeps his balance around the arc, and narrowly misses slapping the ball out of QB Sudfeld's hand.
Though he missed the ball, Zettel didn't miss tattooing Sudfeld in the lower back. Damn that's nice.
Back to the Misery
Possession #2 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 36||2||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||TE Seam||23|
|2||1||10||IND 41||2||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Inside zone||5|
|3||2||5||IND 36||2||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Hitch||8|
|4||1||10||IND 28||2||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Draw||11|
|5||1||10||IND 17||2||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Out||0|
|6||2||10||IND 17||2||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Draw||3|
|7||3||7||IND 14||2||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||Throwaway||0|
|8||4||7||IND 14||2||FG||Field Goal||Bad Snap||-31|
No need to throw the game plan away after one series, particularly since it moved the ball down the field. On our second possession, BOB kept his run-pass balance, and kept his shotgun-spread concept. The first snap shows that BOB knows what in the hell is going on in a game. He paid attention, and he's smart. He calls for a play action pass, hitting TE Carter on a seam for 23 yards, behind an LB who bit on the run fake.
BOB and the offense are clicking, moving the ball down the field. With a 1st down at the IU 28 (snap 4), he calls the opposite of the play action pass - the draw (after pass fake). Howle and Dieff get push on the NT, before Dieff moves to the ILB. TE Carter completely whiffs on his responsibility, the other LB. Despite that, Belton makes Carter's LB whiff in the hole, and pops out for a gain of 11, and another PSU first down.
BOB comes back to the draw two snaps later, on 2nd and 10 from the IU 17. This time the blocking isn't half as good, and Belton is held to a gain of 3 yards.
First, RG Urschel whiffs on his man, the 3-technique DT who started the play on his outside shoulder. TE Carter looks to be in good position on his responsibility this time, though.
Except he apparently isn't. Carter doesn't get even a hand on the LB, who now sits in perfect position to stuff Belton.
Belton, actually, makes that LB miss (again), proving the adage that tackling (even in limited space) is difficult. But the other LB, who was unblocked by LT Smith at the top of the screen, comes down the line and makes the cleanup tackle on Belton, holding him to a gain of 3 yards. Woof.
After Hack throws away the 3rd down pass (everyone covered), BOB settles for the sure thing Ficken field goal to take a 3-0 lead. But Howle's snap short hops our backup holder, Butters, and skids down the field for a loss of 31 yards. Not cool. Penn State has now run 20 plays on it's first two possessions, gained 102 yards, and has 0 points to show for it.
Possession #3 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 20||3||Run||I Formation||Off tackle, Man||3|
|1||2||7||PSU 23||3||Run||1RB, Twns Rt||Outside zone||2|
|1||3||5||PSU 25||3||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Bad blitz pickup||0|
|1||4||5||PSU 25||3||Punt||41 Net|
Bully mode. On our 3rd possession, BOB changed things up a bit, and tried to bully the Hoosiers. So what if IU loads the box - kick their butts anyhow. Amirite?
Sort of. This is a JoePa classic: the I-formation, ISO BOB lead off tackle. Pat Zerbe is your designated battering ram, and is tasked with kicking the hell out of IU's LB (the one with the orange arrow). Left Guard Dieff will combo block the nose tackle with C Howle, before he moves to the second level to tie up the MLB. Right Guard Urschel will scrape the backside DT, before heading to the second level to pick off the backside LB. Man blocking, big boy pants football. The fact that IU has dropped a safety down as an 8th man to the strong side of the formation is immaterial, because we're running to the left.
Well, ****. The Hoosier LB attacks - and I mean, attacks - the play, submarining Zerbe 2 yards in the backfield, shrinking the hole (1 orange checkmark). Howle loses leverage on the NT, who is pinching the hole from the backside (the other orange checkmark). Our only sorta win here is G Dieff hitting the second level and picking off the MLB. Urschel is chasing after the backside LB - not ideal, but not terrible. And LT Smith has pushed his outside end wide, but gets his legs rolled up by Zerbe's man, and falls down.
Zwinak shuffles to avoid Zerbe's man and Howle's man, delaying his head of steam. But when he does get through those two, he's staring at Urschel's man. That forces another shuffle from Zwinak, and in that moment, Dieff's man comes off his block to make first contact. Zwinak gets dog piled from behind by Smith's man, and it's a mass of humanity for a gain of 3 yards. Getting Zwinak to stop-and-restart is a win for the defense, because there's only one Adrian Peterson.
Undeterred, BOB sticks with more man ball from the 1-back set, twins right. This is an outside zone run to the weakside of the formation, and damn if we don't have numbers. We should get this blocked. Howle is "covered" by the NT, and will lock on immediately. Urschel and Gress are both "uncovered", and will slide step right before looking to engage.
But on this day, we can't pull it off. Howle gets driven into the backfield 3 yards deep. With Gress also tangled up by the DE 3-yards deep in the backfield, Zwinak cuts it back inside, and manages to get 2 yards out it. On 3rd down, Belton substitutes for Zwinak, and misses a blitz pickup. Hack's arm is hit as he throws, and the ball falls incomplete. Punt.
Possession #4 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 30||4||Pass||I Formation||Play action, Post||0|
|2||2||10||PSU 30||4||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Draw||5|
|3||3||5||PSU 35||4||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Hitch||9|
|4||1||10||PSU 44||4||Run||I Formation||Lead Draw||6|
|5||2||4||IND 50||4||Run||1RB, Twns Lft||Phantom wham left||-4|
|6||3||8||PSU 46||4||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||Lewis derp||0|
|7||4||8||PSU 46||4||Punt||47 Net|
BOB tries another play action pass on 1st down (snap 1). Zanellato runs a post and crosses the corner's face. There is no safety help for the corner. Zanellato can use his size and position to high point an underthrown ball for a huge gain, or run down one thrown in the direction he's headed. But the ball is overthown, and thrown over the wrong shoulder. Incomplete. It's not the end of the world, though. BOB has Belton in the game at RB, and returns to the Draw play on 2nd down. Belton picks up 5. Hack throws a nice hitch to Robinson on 3rd down to convert (how about the 3rd down conversions by the way?).
With a new set of downs, BOB runs a lead draw from an I formation. This was a staple of the 1990's Cowboys, and is how Emmitt Smith gained 8 billion yards. It works for BOB, too, as the shifty Belton picks up 6. On 2nd down, BOB tries another power run from the last century, pulling RT Gilliam to wham the crap out of IU's OLB (below). LG Dieff and LT Smith block down, with C Howle moving to the second level. Belton jab-steps right, pulling the IU linebackers in that direction. This could be a good run.
But it isn't. Gilliam doesn't go off tackle, and instead stops in the middle of the field to block Smith's man, who had penetrated a bit (though, since the play is designed to go outside, who gives a ****). This, of course, means that the playside OLB is completely unblocked. Belton makes him miss (he does that a lot) - but since Howle can't reach the MLB, the MLB is totally unblocked, too, and cleans up Belton after his initial juke, for a loss of 4 yards.
[Bleeeeeep]. Faced with a 3rd and 8, Indiana blitzes 6. Hack reads the blitz and throws "hot" to WR Lewis on the outside. Freshman Lewis doesn't read the blitz, doesn't sight adjust, and the ball goes out of bounds, incomplete. Punt. [Bleeeeeeeeeep!] me running.
Possession #5 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 44||5||Run||1RB, Twns Lft||Outside zone||4|
|2||2||6||PSU 48||5||Pass||1RB, Twns Lft||WR Screen||8|
|3||1||10||IND 43||5||Pass||1RB, Twns Rt||PA, Intential Grounding||-12|
|4||2||22||PSU 45||5||Pass||4x1 Shotgun||WR Screen||8|
|5||3||14||IND 47||5||Penalty||False Start||Carter||-5|
|6||3||19||PSU 48||5||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||Corner||0|
|7||4||19||PSU 48||5||Punt||Touchback||32 Net|
We're into the 2nd quarter, and despite everything above, Penn State starts it's 5th possession down just 7 points, with the ball at it's own 44 yard line. It's own 44 yard line. That's great field position.
Akeel Lynch is our RB, and BOB calls an outside zone run, behind Dieff and Smith.
Dieff rubs the NT before moving onto the playside LB. Urschel, hell bent on preventing the MLB from crossing his face like he did in the 3rd possession, takes an awesome angle, and beats the MLB to the spot.
But, scared off by Howle getting pushed a yard deep, the young Lynch cuts back. The IU MLB sees it, stops his progress toward the playside, and fills the backside hole. Urschel beating the MLB to the spot is for naught. Poor John can't win for losing today.
The Lynch run still nets four yards, but then the penalties start. After converting 2nd and 6, BOB goes play action on 1st down, with a 7-man protection. Hack can't find anyone open, scrambles right, and throws the ball away. He's flagged for intentional grounding, minus 12 yards (spot foul) and loss of down. We pick up 8 yards on a WR screen on 2nd and 22. But on 3rd and 14, TE Carter false starts. The resultant 3rd and 19 is a corner route wisely thrown out of bounds. We run 5 offensive plays, incur 2 penalties, and net just 4 yards on this drive. Punt from Butters, which the referee claims touched the pylon - touchback, for a net of just 32 yards. IU ball at its own 20, instead of backed up.
Possession #6 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 44||6||Run||1RB, Twns Rt||Outside zone||2|
|2||2||8||PSU 46||6||Run||1RB, Twns Rt||Outside zone||1|
|3||3||7||PSU 47||6||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Hitch||7|
|4||1||10||IND 46||6||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||Slant||46|
We're still down just 7 points. We again get the ball at our own 44 yard line. BOB runs Lynch twice more, on 1st and 10, and 2nd and 8, netting a total of 3 yards. Hack completes a hitch to Robinson on 3rd and 7 to convert. Then Hack throws a 5 yard slant to Robinson, who turns it into a 46 yard touchdown. We're in a tie ballgame, despite all of the crap above.
Possession #7 Play Chart
|1||1||10||PSU 25||7||Run||1RB, Twins Lft||Outside zone||2|
|2||2||8||PSU 27||7||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Inside zone||7|
|3||3||1||PSU 34||7||Run||Hurry Up||QB Sneek||2|
|4||1||10||PSU 36||7||Run||3x1 Shotgun||Outside zone||6|
|5||2||4||PSU 42||7||Run||2x2 Shotgun||Inside zone||13|
|6||1||10||IND 45||7||Run||1RB, Twins Lft||Outside zone||2|
|7||2||8||IND 43||7||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Hitch||0|
|8||3||8||IND 43||7||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Comeback||10|
|9||1||10||IND 33||7||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Comeback||0|
|10||2||10||IND 33||7||Pass||2x2 Shotgun||Go||0|
|11||3||10||IND 33||7||Pass||3x1 Shotgun||Hook||8|
Trailing just 10-7, with 5 minutes and change in the first half, Penn State starts is 7th (seventh!) possession of the half at its own 25. BOB calls six straight rushes. That's six (!) straight, before attempting a hitch to Robinson on 2nd and 8 from the IU 43. The IU corner nearly picks it off.
Facing 3rd and 8, BOB calls another pass. It's a 12-yard comeback from the far hash. This is a big boy throw. A foosball field is 53 yards wide. The right hash to the left sideline is ~34 yards. A 12-yard comeback is thrown at 10 yards - while standing 7 yards deep in the pocket. So, Pythagoras tells us that's 40 yards in the air, dude.
In front of a bad guy.
On a freaking rope, for a first down. Big boy pants.
But, still young. On the next snap, with a fresh set of downs, the location on the comeback is inside, which usually spells disaster. Luckily for us, the IU corner can jump routes, but can't catch.
On 2nd and 10 Hack throws a "go" to a double covered Robinson, out of bounds. And on 3rd and 10, Hack throws an interception over the middle, which Geno Lewis literally steals away from the DB for a gain of 8. On 4th and 2, Ficken's field goal is blocked. Guh.
Hit The Lights, Please
Let's recap this quickly:
- Drive 1 - should've had points. Didn't.
- Drive 2 - should've had points. Didn't.
- Drive 3 - missed assignments.
- Drive 4 - missed assignments.
- Drive 5 - penalties.
- Drive 6 - Touchdown.
- Drive 7 - should've had points. Didn't.
And we went to halftime down just six, despite a pretty awful first half by the O. But hey - just about everything above is correctable. We're not going to a BCS title game this year, but this isn't a 2000 Toledo squad either. We're middle of the pack. But we're young, and we've got to execute better. Hopefully, if you take nothing else away from this Film Room, you'll at least stop the outrageous, suicidal thoughts. The crazy stuff. Things like, "BOB teh dumb." BOB ain't dumb, he's calling the game to win, and the players put a lot more effort into this than you and I do. Bill-ieve it.
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