Well, we finally saw what this team is capable of when it fires on all cylinders. That was the most complete game I've seen this team play in the history of this blog. Here are some of my completely random observations from the game.
The offensive line is really coming together. It took a year and a half, but the good thing is everyone comes back next year so we still have another year and a half with this unit in tact. This is a good thing for 2008 when we'll be breaking in a new quarterback who will need lots of time to throw.
Andrew Quarless must be in the doghouse again. He had one pass thrown his way and he dropped what would have been a sure first down. He was promptly yanked and didn't see the field the rest of the day. Mickey Shuler finished up with 2 catches for 21 yards.
Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster make an outstanding running back duo. I'm particularly impressed with Royster who averaged over 8 yards per carry. We'll be ok at running back next year as long as he stays healthy.
It's doesn't look like the coaches are going to burn Stephfon Green's redshirt as Brent Carter got mop up duty in the fourth quarter. However, Stefen Wisniewski did see the field so it appears he will not be redshirted this year. And in case you didn't notice, Chris Colasanti saw some playing time himself on special teams so it appears he will not be redshirted either.
The injury to Jerome Hayes may create an opportunity for Colasanti to get on the field. I hope they get him on the field somewhere at linebacker. Maybe he'll push for some time with the rotation going on between Sales and Hull.
No word yet on the severity of the injury to Jerome Hayes' knee. The other key injury was to Jared Odrick who was seen with an ice pack on his hand after the game. If it's a broken hand he probably won't miss much playing time if any. Tape it up and get back in there, son.
You know, the minor league hockey feel to Beaver Stadium these days is starting to annoy me. At one point there was a television timeout in a key part of the game. A spontaneous "We Are! Penn State!" cheer broke out and was starting to pick up steam. Then we hear "Come on...Jump in..." Some idiot upstairs decided this was a good time to blare a freakin' commercial for Penn State over the jumbotron. It drowned out the cheer and competely killed it. Hey moron! It's homecoming. 95% of the people in the stands are either current or former Penn State students. I don't think you need to tell us how great Penn State is at that exact moment.
Also, the Nittany Lion did this parody of Saturday Night Fever in the endzone. It was one of those "So cheezy it's cool" type deals. It seems every week the Lion comes up with a new gimmick. I turned to PSUncle when it was over and said, "Remember back when the Lion used to just rub his ears, wag the 'We're Number One' finger around, and do pushups?"
Back to the game now. The defense was amazing. They held Wisconsin to under half of their average rushing total and the unstoppable P.J. Hill was held to a pedestrian 75 yards. They had one mental lapse on a missed tackle that allowed Kyle Jefferson to pick up 32 yards to set up the Badgers only touchdown. But after that they never really threatened again.
Wisconsin has some major issues. The defensive line was getting pushed around all day and the secondary was really loose. The offense struggles mightily when you stop Hill. You can tell they are a lot like us in that they don't have an offense that can come back from behind.
But Tyler Donovan impressed me. He was sacked five times, but most of those came late in the game when Penn State knew they had to pass and could rush hard. Earlier in the game he was moving the chains with his scrambling. Take away the sacks and he gained 42 yards on six carries. He gave up two picks, but only the throw to Scirrotto was his fault. Sargeant was beaten on his interception. He just got lucky the ball bounced off the receivers hands into his.
As the weeks go by Derrick Williams becomes less and less a part of the offense. There was one play in the entire game where he lined up in the back field. It was terribly obvious the ball was going to him and sure enough it was a seven yard swing pass. His only other touch on offense was a two yard end around. The coaches have to be more original in getting him the ball. How about some slants or crossing patterns? He needs to get the ball in a situation where he can juke a guy and get some yards after the catch. He's not going to do that on out patterns and swing passes.
But say hello to Terrell Golden! Five catches for 83 yards thank you very much. Penn State kept running that play action roll out play to him and Wisconsin fell for it every time leaving him completely uncovered. It's not like this is the first time they've run this play this year. I believe we used it against Buffalo a few times with similar results. I guess Wisconsin didn't watch film of that game.
After this week #14 has at least earned his name back, so we'll go back to referring to him as Anthony Morelli. Not a Colt Brennan stat line, but I'll take 16-for-29, 216 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INT every week and be happy with it. He did have a few Morelli moments where he held the ball too long and thought his rifle arm could zip it through the coverage. He was lucky.
Speaking of rifle arms, Deon Butler had the catch of the game. Not the diving 29 yard touchdown pass, though that was nice. I'm talking about the five yard pass the Morelli winged at him at about 100 mph. He had no time to react and the ball was slightly behind him, but Butler made the catch and picked up a few yards.
So there it is. Nice win for the Lions over a quality opponent. Keep it rolling boys. This week we get the Hoosiers and quite frankly, Kellen Lewis scares me. But we'll cover that later in the week.
UPDATE - PSU's website says Kevion Latham also saw action in the game, so his redshirt has been lifted as well. Maybe with Hayes going down he's going to see some playing time.