For those of you who watch Scrubs, this will resonate.
Let's not beat around the bush. I was Laverne in that scene. I'm the happy go lucky guy when it comes to Penn State sports. I have enough optimism to share with the entire Penn State fanbase. I can see the worst things happen to our teams, and I always find a way to look at the silver linings. I always find a way to be hopeful. But I can't. I can't anymore. I was ok with losing to Indiana. I was ok with losing to Maryland. But Temple? Temple? No, there's no more optimism left.
James Franklin had nine months to prepare for a Temple team that's undermanned and less talented at every position. John Donovan has had enough time to put up a game plan that shows last year was an aberration. Christian Hackenberg went to many camps to work on his mechanics. The offensive line was hungry and ready. What happened?
We started out with promise in the first quarter, with Akeel Lynch showing why he deserved to be the first string back last year. He had a 42-yard run for a TD, and at that point we were leading 10 - 0. Hackenberg, while not lighting the world on fire, had a respectable quarter. The offensive line seemed like it learned from having an offseason with the coaching staff. And then it happened. Temple figured out or game plan, the offensive line couldn't block, Hackenberg kept getting sacked, and the running game sputtered.
It's hard to draw conclusions from just one game, but what exactly did this staff do all offseason? How could we go from 128 yards in the first quarter with two scoring drives to less than 50 yards and zero points the rest of the way? How were we not able to adjust to Temple's defense, which consisted of "rush people to Hackenberg and cover THE guy" on every play? How could we not get the running game going outside of that one play for a touchdown? Those are questions Franklin and his staff will have to answer if this team wants to salvage this season.
Temple's defense, the undermanned, underweighted, scrappy guys kept going and kept pushing. Their efforts were rewarded with 10 sacks on the game. And in an eerie fashion, what actually blew the game open was an interception return for a touchdown, just like we did to them last year. After that return, there was simply no hope. Everybody believes that if a play works, you should run it until it doesn't work. I am actually not one of those people. This play is the perfect example. Chris Godwin gained 8 yards on a quick slant on the previous play, and the staff tried again since it worked the first time. The rest is history.
Throughout most of the game, Hackenberg looked poised. He kept his composure regardless of what kept happening. I'm sure he kept seeing the flashes from last season come back to him after each and every sack. However, you could start seeing the chinks fall off the armor after the play calling failed us following that interception. For the first time, I actually realized what was staring me in the face this entire time: Hackenberg isn't suited for this offense. Not because it's not the offense Franklin wants to run. Not because Hackenberg isn't good enough to run this offense. It's simply, and honestly, because we don't have an offense. It's hard to do well when the people who are supposed to guide you don't actually have anything to guide you with.
Everybody faces adversity at some point. Several successful seasons in our history have seen this type of embarrassment before. It's up to the staff to learn from this and prove to the world that they can adjust.
Three Unrelated Things:
1) It's not Hackenberg.
2) Temple, please have an UCF type of season. Please.
3) Geno Lewis was second in the depth chart, yet he started. What's going on?