Fifteen seniors took the field for the last time at Beaver Stadium amid occasional frigid gusts and come-and-go snow flurries. The weather, unpredictable from minute to minute, stood as a bitter caricature of the 2013 season for the Nittany Lions. From the season opener against Syracuse through a disappointing loss to an underwhelming Nebraska squad, the 2013 Lions struggled to find consistency from quarter to quarter, and drive to drive.
With one game left, a roadtrip to Wisconsin, it's unlikely that BOB and the team will find the answers. Saturday's 2 for 14 mark on 3rd downs - 14% conversion - is equally inexplicable as last week's 50% conversion rate. The on again, off again flailing about works both ways, too. Last week the defense allowed Purdue's offense - the worst in the last 30 years of Big Ten football - to look respectable. And this week, facing a far more talented side, the defense played well. Certainly they played well enough to win, even if the Huskers were showing enthusiasm under the leadership of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's doppelganger, Ron Kellogg.
BOB journeyed from Coach of the Year to most exasperated guy on the planet in 11 games. That's what happens when nearly 50% of your travel squad are 1st and 2nd year players. In another 60 minutes of game time, the frustration will come to an end. And 5 or 6 weeks from now, we'll really miss it.
Three Completely Unrelated, Probably Useless Thoughts
1) Welp, I guess we have to mention special teams. One missed extra point. One missed field goal. One blocked punt allowed. And one kickoff returned for a touchdown allowed. Those 14 or so points sure played a critical role in the 3 point overtime loss.
2) Another Big Ten contest, another horribly officiated game. This season's worst call of the century actually benefited Penn State. A Husker receiver was flagged for unnecessary roughness, killing an Ameer Abdullah touchdown run. There was no reason whatsoever that the flag should have been thrown. But Nebraska had to settle for a game tying 3 points instead of the go ahead touchdown. Maybe, someday, the officiating in the Big Ten won't be laughably atrocious. At this point, though, we may see world peace and interfaith harmony first.
3) It's not effort. It's not discipline. It's not mental toughness. But I can't explain the wild inconsistency from this year's squad, and I'm certain BOB can't either. As mentioned above, a large portion of it is simply youth. But that's not all of it. Allen Robinson has had the greatest season for a wide receiver in Penn State history. But on two critical 3rd downs in the 4th quarter, he dropped a pass on one, and couldn't uncover on another. And that's not to pick on A-Rob. He's one of the best players on the team. I mention him only to point out that the inconsistency is everywhere, from the top of the roster to the bottom. The only thing we could count on from week to week this year was the inconsistency. Not once this season did the squad manage to turn in a game like last season's thumping of Iowa at Kinnick, when everything clicked for nearly an entire game. Not even when our opponents were Eastern Michigan or Kent State. It's been a difficult thing to understand.
More from Black Shoe Diaries:
- What They Deserved: Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (OT)
- Night Games Open Thread
- Penn State-Nebraska 4th Quarter Open Thread
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