Trying to put a ribbon on a game against a team that is obviously over matched in talent can be quite a challenge. Penn State should have won big against the Minutemen, and they did. They should have been able to impose their will on both lines, and for the most part, they did. The much maligned running game should have found some traction, and it did, to the tune of 228 yards.
The biggest thing I take away from yesterday's game is the confidence I would expect this team to have, especially along the offensive line. I am sure I was not alone in having some concern early on as the offense struggled at seemingly every position. But once Bill Belton was able to break loose on a 24 yard touchdown run, you could sense the relief, and the team just started to play.
Yes, the competition is probably the worst PSU will face all season, but for a group like the offensive line that had been beat up, both literally and figuratively through the first 3 games, rushing for over 200 yards has to be a great feeling. James Franklin and Herb Hand have both said they had seen progress through 3 games, but to finally have some results to put behind that has to be helpful. With Northwestern and a bye week leading up to the next big test at Michigan (yes, that will still be a test), the opportunity is there to take another tangible step or two. Oh, and getting that Miles Dieffebach guy back in the next month won't hurt either.
Three Completely Unrelated, Probably Useless Thoughts
1) This team doesn't have a true #1 running back, and that is totally OK. Belton, Zach Zwinak, and Akeel Lynch all know their roles. Belton's versatility (pass protection being the most critical, in my opinion) probably gets him the most snaps, but Zwinak's power, and Lynch's ability to hit the hole quickly all have their place.
2) I am sure to be roasted for this, but I'm not sure the wildcat is the end of the world like it has been portrayed at times. Yes, the competition yesterday was a step or two below what we've seen to date, but my biggest issue with it has been the inability to run it correctly. There was at least a glimpse yesterday of what you can do out of it, if you execute, and I loved the jet sweet to Lynch (and I can't wait until DeAndre Thompkins is running that with his speed). The next step is to continue that against better teams.
3) I loved seeing the guys further down the depth chart get a shot yesterday, and do more than just hand the ball off or play basic cover-3 defense. D.J. Crook looked very comfortable throwing the ball, and I was thrilled to see Brent Wilkerson catch a few balls, including the games final touchdown. Who knows when their next chance to play in Beaver Stadium will be, so credit the staff for letting them actually play a little.