Anthony Morelli easily had his best game so far in a Penn State uniform. His passes were on target. He didn't throw into coverage and threw the ball away when the situation dictated. Best of all he showed poise and confidence and leadership in the huddle leaving Nittany Lion fans to wonder, "Where has this been all year?"
His first play from scrimmage was a thing of beauty as he hit Deon Butler streaking down the sideline lofting it over the defender. The precision carried on all day as Morelli finished 14-of-25 for 197 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INT. His stats could have been better if not for some dropped balls and catches taken away on instant replay.
What can I say about Tony Hunt that already hasn't been said? He's a workhorse carrying the ball 31 times. He's a warrior carrying defenders on his back for extra yards on his way to a 158 yard performance. Tennessee never had an answer for Hunt. How fitting is it our last memory of Tony Hunt in a Penn State uniform will be that fourth quarter drive to seal the win. On that drive he carried the ball on seven consecutive plays for gains of 7, 5, 5, 8, 9, 8, and minus 3 yards. Unfortunately, by the time they got to the goal line he was gassed, and BranDon Snow and Matt Hahn were not able to punch it in the rest of the way.
Tony uncharacteristically talked a little smack after the game.
That's really unlike Tony to talk like that. Perhaps it had something to do with their linebackers, who according to Deon Butler, were talking a little smack themselves.
Yeah. That was smart.
Grade: A for the play, A+ for the attitude
This group had perhaps their most consistent game of the season, but they weren't great. Butler caught two gorgeous passes on the first series, and then caught another ball on a 31 yard pass to the UT 2 yard line to set up State's first touchdown in the second quarter. Then he disappeared after that. Williams and Butler picked up the slack making several key third down catches to move the chains. Terrell Golden also chipped in getting behind the safeties for an acrobatic 35 yard catch on a 3rd and 1 call.
Butler had a bogus pass interference call which was probably a makeup call for an earlier pass interference call on Robert Meachem. They did drop a few balls and weren't able to stay in bounds a few times. And this group must work on becoming a threat in the redzone in the off season.
That's right. Tight end singular. Because Andrew Quarless is the only decent tight end we have. He played a good game but wasn't as much of a factor as I thought he was going to be. Maybe defenses are starting to adjust to him. He only caught one ball for two yards, but it was a huge catch for Penn State's only offensive touchdown. He almost made a great sideline catch, but he was just barely out of bounds on the play. I thought he did a good job of blocking in the running game.
Right now our three deep is one deep in this position. The incoming freshmen tight ends can't get here soon enough. Look for incoming recruit Andrew Szczerba to make an immediate impact next season.
This much maligned group had their best game of the year. The opened up huge running lanes for Hunt and protected Morelli all day not giving up a single sack. But there were some mistakes. Rich Ohrnberger had a bad game with an offsides penalty, a holding penalty, and a completely blown assignment that allowed Turk McBride to blow up Tony Hunt in the backfield. Levi Brown had a costly false start in the redzone that helped kill a drive. But overall they did a good job only giving up three negative yardage plays the entire game.
A one-legged Joe Paterno could gain 10 yards though that hole
Overall Offensive Play
They ran the ball extremely well. The passing game looked sharp at times and off on others. They still can't pass over the middle. Overall a good effort, but they still don't score points. Four times they entered the redzone on offense. They got one touchdown and two field goals. The other trip was their final drive of the game and they let the clock run out. Twice the defense gift wrapped excellent field position in UT territory. They only got three points on those two possessions. They did go 92 yards in the first half for their best offensive drive of the season. But too many drives were killed by stupid mistakes like penalties and dropped passes. If they can fine tune these things in spring practice this offense can go from scoring 15 points per game to scoring 25 or 30 points per game.