I was going to put this in the post game wrapup, but I decided it's too important and needs to have a post of its own.
As I sat and watched the replay of the game this morning it became abundantly clear to me why the offense is playing so poorly. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before. Maybe because I've watched so many games from the stands this year and not on television. But as I watched the tape of the game, it was clear there are no leaders on offense right now.
Time and time again the offense was stopped and frustrated. When they showed players standing on the sideline it was like they didn't care they were getting their asses handed to them. Anthony Morelli was standing on the sideline after one punt blankly staring into space with his mouth hanging open. It seems to me some players have packed it in now that the BCS and Big Ten title are out of the question. Maybe some seniors just want to finish this out so they can get their degree and not have to wake up at 5 AM to lift the weights anymore.
Where are the leaders on this team? At one point, I believe it was the third quarter, the cameras showed Poz talking on the headset. He was gnashing his teeth and looked like a man possessed. He was slamming his helmet and looked like he wanted to rip somebody's arm off and beat them over the head with it. He was getting in people's faces and challenging them. That's what a senior captain is supposed to do. The defense responded with 3 turnovers, a touchdown and a safety.
Who did that for the offense? Morelli still looks like he's in la-la land. Tony Hunt is just the quiet workhorse. The offensive line is too busy feeling sorry for themselves and looking over their shoulder waiting for the hook to pull them out of the game.
I'm more and more convinced Levi Brown was a bad choice for team captain. I think Levi is a great guy and an All American player, but he is not a leader. Listen to Brown's postgame comments.
You could have fooled me. I could have sworn it was the offensive line's job to protect the quarterback. Is Brown saying it was Morelli's fault for not getting rid of the ball fast enough? Nice thing to say about a kid who stood in there and got nailed on every passing play and took a concussion for the team. Or are you blaming the running backs for not blocking the guys the offensive line forgot to block?
Apparently Brown is more interested in sticking up for his offensive line buddies than being the captain of the team. You're captain of the team, Levi. Not the captain of the offensive line.
A captain has to have a mean streak sometimes. It's more than putting your arm around a guy and saying, "Hey, you'll get 'em next time." Sometimes you need to grab a guy by the facemask and smack him in the head. I can remember Tony Sacca used to stare down a receiver and chew his ass out in the huddle if he dropped a well thrown ball. He didn't clap for the guy and pat him on the butt. And if the guy dropped another one he told the coaches to yank his ass.
Teams take on the mentality of their leaders. The Tony Sacca and Larry Johnson offenses weren't flashy but they were tough and mean like their leaders. This team is soft and apathetic, just like their captain.
I also don't like that Brown sat out two games this season with an injury. Paterno said he could have played those games, but they decided to sit him out. I'm sorry, but an All American tackle has to be tougher than that. A captain has to be tougher than that. When Poz's knee exploded in the Orange Bowl, he told the coaches to shoot it up so he could get back in there. If he could go even 10%, you know Poz is going to insist on playing. But apparently with Brown, they sat down and talked about it and decided to sit him out, even though he would suit up just in case they needed him.
The more I look back on the sideline incident between Levi Brown and BranDon Snow in Minnesota, the more I respect Snow and lose respect for Brown. Snow was angry about not being on the field in a crucial situation and he was letting the coaches know it. Brown stepped in and shoved Snow away and told him to keep his mouth shut. The press praised him for it at the time saying, "That's what your senior captain does." I disagree.
I like to see a player with a fire in his belly. Every guy should want the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. That's all Snow wanted. But Brown felt it was more important to not rock the boat. Stay the course. Let's all get along first and win second. I'm tired of that attitude. I'm tired of seeing players and coaches coddle the offensive line for failing performances. I want to see more players and coaches getting in the faces of each other.
If Penn State wants to save this season, they need to appoint another captain right now because Levi Brown is not getting it done on offense. Tony Hunt is too quiet. Morelli just doesn't have "it", whatever "it" is. Maybe he will when he feels more comfortable out there. But right now he's too worried about what he is supposed to be doing let alone what other people are supposed to be doing.
My choice for captain would be Deon Butler. He's a walk on player that is outplaying Derrick Williams and everyone else on the offense. The guy goes hard every play and throws his body around like nobody else. Plus I love what I hear from him in the press conferences. Every week I hear Butler saying things like "We need to step it up," or "I'm tired of losing." Maybe Deon doesn't feel like it's his place to challenge upper classmen. May he feels he's just a sophomore and this is supposed to be "Levi's team". But someone has to step up and smack some heads or this already disappointing season is going to get a whole lot worse.