So here's the thing: Mike Hull had an unreal night. Anthony Zettel -- and really, the entire defensive line, but only one of those guys had a pick-six -- terrorized Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell and even the backup linebackers had nice games. The secondary looked solid. It was, despite allowing 31 points (ok it was more like 21, dumb refs), a swarming defensive performance.
That's why our MVP this week is defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. He put together the perfect gameplan for taking on Ohio State and for slowing down maybe the best offense in the Big Ten. Penn State won in the trenches, made Barrett look pretty bad whenever he threw the ball and while OSU gained 219 yards on the ground, it needed 57(!!!!) carries to get there. Shoop's defense laid out a blueprint to stop Ohio State, which came into this week on fire, and it executed it. He called a wonderful game, and it's a shame that the offense struggled for most of the contest. And that the refs handed Ohio State 10 points, but I digress.
Player MVP: Mike Hull
Ok so if we're naming a coach MVP, we'll also name the best player, which is obviously Hull. He had 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Nineteen tackles! He was all over the place, doing all the stuff we expected Mike Hull to do: he organized the defense, read plays seemingly from the moment the ball was snapped and reacted immediately. Hull's football intellect and his instincts are top-notch, and on Saturday, both of those were exhibited. He is the best linebacker in the Big Ten.
Anthony Zettel -- You can really copy and paste everything that we've said about Zettel so far this season and put it in here. He was his usual destructive self against the Buckeyes, and he lived in the backfield. He was especially fun against the run, because if they ran at him, you know he was going to bring them down. Oh, also, there's this -- I asked Bill to write this part: ANTHONY ZETTEL GOT A PICK-SIX. IT WAS AWESOME. BEAVER STADIUM GOT SO LOUD, YOU GUYS. OH MY GOD IT WAS AWESOME. I MAN HUGGED EVERYONE.
Saeed Blacknall/Chris Godwin -- Sure, the two freshmen didn't light the world on fire -- Blacknall caught four balls for 34 yards and this amazing touchdown grab, while Godwin caught three balls for 16 yards. The most important thing was that the two didn't back down from a massive challenge, they both got a ton of run and they were both on the field for the final drive of regulation. James Franklin and John Donovan must believe in them, and you know what? These kids can play. Here's to a REALLY bright future for both of them.
DaeSean Hamilton -- Guys:
He's so good at football.
Whoever Taught Christian Hackenberg How To Read What Defensive Linemen Are Doing Before He Executes A QB Sneak -- You're beautiful.
Before we go, two special shout-outs:
1) The fans: The Whiteout was unreal, the crowd was louder than hell and the well-executed "I Believe" chant was amazing. If you were part of it, go get yourself a milkshake tonight as a special treat.
2) Herb Hand and the Offensive Line: Ok, so we're still not dealing with, say, one of the old BERT o-lines at Wisconsin. For a fair portion of the night, the line struggled, and the game's final play was because Andrew Nelson wasn't sure who he was supposed to block. But after Donovan Smith went down and missed the rest of the game, the line from left to right was: Andrew Nelson-Brendan Mahon-Wendy Laurent-Brian Gaia-Angelo Mangiro. It stayed together, for the most part! Hackenberg generally had time to throw, the running game had a little room to work and despite having a right tackle at left tackle, a tackle at left guard, a backup center, a defensive tackle at right guard and a center at right tackle, it somehow worked out. Not bad, guys. Not bad at all.