Saturday, September 4th 2010 (State College, PA)
The Robert Bolden Era has begun. The 2010 season opener again Youngstown State didn't quite start the way Penn State fans would have wanted it to, but it sure finished the way we hoped it would. Bolden showcased his outstanding passing ability against the feisty (early on at least) Youngstown State Penguins, displaying both touch and arm strength. Many of the questions Penn State fans had entering this opener were answered and a few new ones have surfaced.
Robert Bolden was everything we could have imagined and then some. Although the play calling didn't show case his running ability (one carry for one yard), his passing was something to admire, especially for an 18 year old true freshman QB. Bolden finished the day 20-29 for 239 yards 2 TDs and one INT. Brett Brackett, who had the game of his life, was on the receiving end of Bolden's first career completion; a 12 yard strike that Brackett seemed surprised to be on the receiving end of.
The emergency of captain Brett Brackett as a viable receiving option was a bit shocking. It seemed Brackett was open on most routes he ran. Lined up as a tight slot receiver (almost a hybrid TE) Brackett was an excellent safety blanket for the young QB. Brackett finished the day with eight catches for 98 yards and 2 TDs (in 2009 Brackett only had 3 catches for 13 yards and 1 TD.) Only five different receivers caught passes (Brackett 8, Royster 3, Smith 1, Moye 5, Brown 3) a departure from the last few seasons when Daryll Clark would spread the ball all over the field. Despite only five receivers catching passes, Penn State displayed some depth at the position with at least seven different receivers seeing playing time when the game was still in doubt.
Coming into the game, it was assumed that Evan Royster would receive the plenty of carries as he inches ever so closer to the all-time rushing record at Penn State. That assumption couldn't have been further from the truth. Royster finished the day with only 11 carries for 40 yards and an embarrassing 3.5 yards a carry. The problem was the run blocking. Throughout most of the day, the holes just weren't there. With the exception of a few nice runs, the offensive line remains a work in progress. Stephfon Green finished the day with 6 carries for 32 yards, 13 of which came on a nice draw play.
Penn State fans were treated to a glimpse of the future when Silas Redd entered the game in the 4th quarter. Redd looked like and probably was the best RB on the field on this day. He displayed some outstanding speed and shifty running moves that will surly earn him some more time on the field this season. Redd finished the day with three carries for 20 yards and inches short of his first career TD. Human battering ram, Curtis Dukes got in for the final play of the game and rushed for five yards.
The 1st team defense left much to be desired early on, letting up a 80 yard slip screen TD pass on YSU's third series of the game. After the TD, the defensive settled down and started to lay some wood to the Penguins. The linebacker rotation was in full effect on this afternoon. The big five (Stupar, Mauti, Colasanti, Gbadyu, Hodges) all received plenty of snaps and Gerald Hodges had some of the bigger hits of the afternoon. At one point, the dream team of Stupar, Mauti (MLB), and Hodges were on the field at the same time, show outstanding athleticism and hope for the future of "Linebacker U." 2nd team defensive, out on the field for only two series, let up a late TD, which was predicted on Friday by some of the BSD staff.
Special teams was just that - Special. Collin Wagner looked like a different kicker than the one we saw in 2009. He connected on all three of his field goal attempts from distances he struggled with last season (44, 49, 48) and two of those kicks were against the 15 mph wind. Anthony Fera's kickoffs were as advertised. Four of his kickoffs were touchbacks, including one that almost went through the uprights.
The biggest play of the day was the second half kickoff, which Chaz Powell took 100 yards to the house for a TD (first 100 yard return since 1975.) It was nice to see some exciting returns in the game. Devon Smith had a long punt returned called back for an illegal block in the back, but the fact that he was back there should let fans get excited. It appears the days of the designated fair catcher (Astorino) are over. Justin Brown and Smith were back to return all of the punts.
Check back tomorrow for a more in-depth look at the offense, defense and special teams.
PSU - Wagner 44 yd field goal
YSU - 80 yard TD Pass
PSU - Wagner 49 yd field goal
PSU - Bolden to Bracket 20 yd TD Pass
PSU - Wagner 48 yd field goal
PSU - Powell 100 yd kickoff return TD
PSU - Bolden to Brackett 22 yd TD Pass
PSU - Green 6 yd TD Run
PSU - Newsome 1 yd TD Run
YSU - 7 yd TD Pass