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Recap: Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 6


OH SO CLOSE. I'm historically awful at predictions, but with the exception of the predicted blowout of Temple, not too shabby so far.

Anyway.  It didn't take a genius to figure out how the Eastern Michigan game would go down.  Perhaps most surprising was that Eastern attempted 31 passes, and with modest success (18 completions, 202 yards, only one interception).  Granted, the way Penn State was stuffing the Eagles' running game (43 attempts, 68 net yards), there was little alternative. 

Sonic Midget.  It continues to boggle my mind that Devon Smith gets sent on routes more than 10 yards downfield, but you see what's possible if he's able to get the ball in space -- a 71-yard catch and run that was 5% catch and 95% run.  This is how he should be used.  This is not rocket science.  It's not even bottle rocket science.

Red Dead Redemption.  Matt McGloin was precise, aware, and generally flawless on Saturday.  The cross-field touchdown lob to Joe Suhey isn't something currently in Rob Bolden's repertoire.  And yes, this was Eastern Michigan we're talking about, one of the worst defenses in FBS.  Still, since we're all compelled to play this game on a weekly basis, Round 4 clearly goes to McGloin.  With McGloin's first decisive victory under his belt in the quarterback derby, let's see how the coaching staff reacts to it.  Will he take the field first against Indiana, or will the rotation continue as before with Bolden starting and McGloin coming in on the third or fourth series?

Angry Penn State Linebacker Hating God Strikes Again.  Another linebacker, another non-contact ACL tear.  This time, it was Mike Mauti, either the most important or second most important player on the Penn State defense, depending on your opinion of Devon Still.  Mauti already went through an ACL rehab on his other knee, which may be the only splinter of sunlight in this whole ordeal.  That, and the considerable depth at linebacker as opposed to other spots on the team.  The timing on this is awful for Mauti, given the usual 12-18 month recovery period for ACL's and Penn State's usual cautiousness with bringing players back from that particular injury.

KICKER CONTROVERSYAnthony Fera not only punted the hell out of the ball (51.7 avg), he also converted a short field goal of 29 yards and made all of his extra points.  Kickin' Sam Ficken hit a 43 yard field goal later in the game.  I'm not sure we were given an explanation for why Fera didn't attempt the 43 yarder, or if there will be any rationale for how these guys are used during the Big Ten schedule.

Mike Zordich Gets The Free Pass.  He rocked a killer 'stache in preseason and enthusiastically vaporizes kickoff returners, so we'll forgive Mike Zordich's error of fumbling through the endzone as he was about to score a touchdown.  Plus, he's Mauti's roommate.  He's depressed enough.

Disturbing Trend.  After creating some running lanes against Alabama, the collective feeling was that Penn State's offensive line might be a little better than expected.  Those running lanes have disappeared against Temple and EMU.  Silas Redd had only 48 yards on 12 carries.

Please Just Stay Upstairs, Joe.  Seriously.  Please.  He admitted, rather shockingly, that he was in a lot of pain while standing on the sideline in the first half.  Hopefully, that will serve as a lesson for the remainder of the season, especially once temperatures plummet.  We know you want to be on the field, Joe.  It's okay.  We get it.  Please stay in the press box for your safety and our sanity.

Love The Drake!  Nice to see Curtis Drake working his way back into the offense.  He's a very effective weapon if he can remain healthy.

As for the quarterbacks...

McGloin was very good, and obviously had the better day of the two quarterbacks.  I'm not sure anybody can really dispute that, so let's take a look at Bolden's work:

Drive #1

Psu     1-10    at Psu13    PENN STATE drive start at 12:12.
Psu     1-10    at Psu13    Redd, Silas rush for 6 yards to the PSU19
Psu     2-4    at Psu19    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Moye, Derek for 6 yards to the PSU25

Pass is a touch high, but it's an easy first down pickup.

Psu     1-10    at Psu25    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Belton, Bill for no gain to the PSU25

Blown up smoke screen, as Devon Smith is asked to block a linebacker in space and gets trucked. Throw was perfect.

Psu     2-10    at Psu25    Redd, Silas rush for 1 yard to the PSU26
Psu     3-9    at Psu26    PENALTY PSU illegal procedure 5 yards to the PSU21.
Psu     3-14    at Psu21    Bolden, Rob pass incomplete to Redd, Silas.

Tailback screen for Redd, and yeah, I don't know why Bolden can't throw these.  It's almost like he's not giving enough ground before throwing the ball, then proceeding to throw it way too hard.

Drive #2

Psu     1-10    at Psu43    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Drake, Curtis for 17 yards to the EMU40, 1ST DOWN PSU.

Perfect playaction strike to Drake. Thrown with a defender in Bolden's face.

Psu     1-10    at Emu40    Redd, Silas rush for 11 yards to the EMU29, 1ST DOWN PSU.

Psu     1-10    at Emu29    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Brown, Justin for 11 yards to the EMU18, 1ST DOWN PSU.

Bolden leads Brown a bit too much, but Brown makes a great catch and picks up the first down.

Psu     1-10    at Emu18    Bolden, Rob pass incomplete to Smith, Devon.

This was a howler.  Bolden stares down Smith and throws it through the safety's hands.  Zordich was open in the middle of the field and gets to at least the 5, if not the end zone.

Psu     2-10    at Emu18    Redd, Silas rush for 9 yards to the EMU9.
Psu     3-1    at Emu09    PENALTY PSU illegal procedure 5 yards to the EMU14.
Psu     3-6    at Emu14    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Brown, Justin for 2 yards to the EMU12.

Bad play on two counts.  First, Brown and Szczerba are running two yard patters on 3rd and 6.  The other two WR's are double covered beyond the sticks.  This leaves Redd alone on a linebacker if Bolden is willing to wait a second, and he had a few seconds to spare against an ineffective four-man rush.

Drive #3

Psu     1-10    at Psu08    PENN STATE drive start at 14:53.
Psu     1-10    at Psu08    Redd, Silas rush for no gain to the PSU8.
Psu     2-10    at Psu08    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Moye, Derek for 8 yards to the PSU16, out-of-bounds.

This is a beautiful pass, with Moye coming back toward the ball near the sideline.  A pure bullet.  And it's wasted when Redd eats a double ILB fire on the next play.

Psu     3-2    at Psu16    Redd, Silas rush for loss of 1 yard to the PSU15.

Drive #4

Psu     1-10    at Psu24    Bolden, Rob pass incomplete to Moye, Derek.

This is kind of awful.  Bolden stares down Moye from the very beginning and throws high.  Meanwhile, Szczerba is clearing the linebacker level down the seam with his hand raised in the air.  Nobody would've caught him.

Psu     2-10    at Psu24    Redd, Silas rush for 5 yards to the PSU29.
Psu     3-5    at Psu29    Bolden, Rob pass complete to Smith, Devon for 71 yards to the EMU0, 1ST DOWN PSU, TOUCHDOWN, clock 13:59.

And my God, how hard was that?  Imagine, not making little Moo-Moo fight cornerbacks and safeties 25 yards down the field!

Drive #5

Psu     1-10    at Psu33    PENALTY EMU illegal procedure 5 yards to the PSU38.
Psu     1-5    at Psu38    PSU ball on PSU38.
Psu     1-5    at Psu38    1st and 10.
Psu     1-10    at Psu38    Drake, Curtis rush for loss of 2 yards to the PSU36.
Psu     2-12    at Psu36    Bolden, Rob pass incomplete to Robinson, Allen.

Not really sure what's going on here.  Nobody's open, terrible throw.  If this was an EPL match, the entire crowd would've derisively shouted "Heeeeeeeeeeey!" for the bad pass.

Psu     3-12    at Psu36    Bolden, Rob pass incomplete to Smith, Devon.

FOUR VERTS.  Somewhere, Mike Leach had an ARRRRRRRRRR-on. Broken up on a nice recovery by the corner.

Drive #6

Psu     1-10    at Psu20    Dukes, Curtis rush for 15 yards to the PSU35, 1ST DOWN PSU
Psu     1-10    at Psu35    Bolden, Rob pass intercepted by OHRMAN, Brad at the PSU35, OHRMAN, Brad

Honestly, I'm not sure what else Bolden is supposed to do here.  Dukes makes the most laughable attempt at cutting the defensive end (Ohrman) you can imagine.  Ohrman sidesteps Dukes, then leans back into Bolden's field of vision (he's staring down Allen Robinson, who is open on a ten-yard curl), and makes a once in a lifetime play for a DE.  Call me a Bolden apologist if you have to, but this was 100% on Dukes.

So Bolden Is The Best Quarterback Ever And McGloin Supporters Just Don't Get It?  No.  We knew EMU was bad, defensively.  McGloin was efficient, showed excellent touch on his passes, and clearly won the day.  It's wrong to be down on Bolden's performance, however.  He threw only four truly bad passes, and another misread on a 3rd and 6 which should've gone to Redd across the middle.  If there's a big complaint about Bolden, this is it -- in addition to staring down his primary receivers, he's reluctant to check down to the running backs across the middle (although the long touchdown play to Smith was certainly encouraging).