clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

I Watched Penn State's Game Against Temple Again. Here Were 50 Thoughts I Had.

The things I do for content, man.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

I sat in the nosebleeds of Penn State's game against Temple on Saturday. It was fun up until the point where bad things started happening and then it became not fun. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what it was like to watch the game on WatchESPN, in full, and see what it looked like. In the name of #content, here are 50 thoughts I had while I watched.

  1. Before the game, Brock Huard painted this as, basically, "Penn State is bigger, faster and stronger, but Temple has a ton of heart." WHAT IS THIS POWER YOU POSSESS HUARD?
  2. Another fun Huard point: while discussing Temple before the kickoff, he mentioned that Temple tried to run a certain offense last year, but it didn't work, so the coaching staff changed it. *kermit sipping tea meme*
  3. Brandon Bell sniffed out the screen pass on Temple's first play in, like, half a second. Considering Nyeem Wartman-White's going to be out for the year, Bell is now Penn State's leader among the linebackers. I have 100 percent faith in his ability to handle that, he's awesome.
  4. Bell looks like a badass with a neck roll, like every other linebacker ever.
  5. Temple has a guy named Kyle Friend and he seems like a really nice dude because his last name is "Friend."
  6. Penn State started with the ball on the 30 on its first offensive drive. This was after Temple booted a punt that went inside the 20. One of the big reasons why James Franklin and his staff were so successful at Vanderbilt were because of elite special teams, and we started seeing glimpses of those on Saturday. Shout out to Charles Huff.
  7. Brandon Polk.
  8. On the first drive, there was one play where Christian Hackenberg took a snap on a third down, had a perfectly clean pocket, and threw a dart outside the numbers right into Geno Lewis' chest. It's moments like this that I want to point to when the "Hack sux we want McSorley" crowd comes out from the dumpsters that they reside in outside of their local Long John Silver's.
  9. Hackenberg had a clean pocket all drive and outside of one pass that he short hopped, he was delivering catchable balls all over the place. Adam Gress summed it up the best.
  10. As someone who writes at other sports places, let me tell you, Joey Julius is the best person of all time. SHAMELESS PLUG: read Uproxx Sports!
  11. College Ballghazi was the weirdest thing, and shouts to the ESPN announcers for making fun of how weird it (and the NFL version) was.
  12. The defense was lights out early. This goes to show how gutted the team was after NWW went down, along with how exhausted they were because they were on the field so much. Ugh.
  13. Take point No. 8 and put it here for the throw where Hackenberg stepped up in the pocket and fired a bullet to Chris Godwin.
  14. I temporarily forgot how to breathe when Akeel Lynch ran for that touchdown it ruled I loved everyone at that point. This was also the last fun thing. It happened with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
  15. Temple's coverage team is so good. This was the underrated aspect of the game: at a certain point, when Penn State's offense stalled, the Nittany Lions were punting from their 25 or 30, and this was because when Temple punted before, they were all over the returner.
  16. First quarter, 4:05 mark: Jarred Alwan strip sacks Hackenberg. This was the moment the game ended. And the crazy thing is, this play wasn't any one person's fault, it was just an excellent play call by Temple. But for some reason, this led to the offensive line crumbling and Hackenberg losing every ounce of confidence he had.
  17. Shout out to Daniel Pasquairello. He had a rough last season but generally got good leg on the ball on Saturday. He needs to get better at directional kicking, which is a tough thing to do, but he showed signs of progress.
  18. "That's sack number two, and it has nothing to do with the quarterback," said Brock Huard, who is really good at his job.
  19. Temple managed to sack Hackenberg again on the same drive. Huard didn't say it wasn't on Hackenberg, but it wasn't.
  20. Bell stripping P.J. Walker and getting the ball for Penn State on the Temple 43 ruled and the fact that he kept playing his ass off despite losing a teammate and a shaky offense was admirable.
  21. Huard is talking about how things need to change for Penn State because of how much Hackenberg got hit last year and today. It's the 9:47 mark of the second quarter.
  22. Temple converted a 3rd-and-12 on the first extended drive where Wartman-White was in the locker room. The Owls also scored on that drive, which featured a first down when they had a 2nd-and-22. There were a few nice moments on the drive, but I don't think any of those things were a coincidence.
  23. Hackenberg completely air mailed a pass to DaeSean Hamilton at the end of the second. We're already starting to see that getting hit was getting to him. An even more subtle way: after a snap infraction on Angelo Mangiro, a Temple player ran right up to Hackenberg and tapped the ball out of his hand. Hackenberg stood there with a blank look on his face. He was rattled.
  24. So now that it's halftime in the game, I want to really quickly rant on something: preparation. One thing that I've seen people say is that Temple was a much more well-prepared team than Penn State, which is false. Penn State was obviously more well-prepared, and I know this, because I watched the first quarter when Penn State's preparation paid off in the form of 10 points and more than 100 yards of total offense. The Nittany Lion defense was suffocating, and Temple's offense didn't do anything. The difference was...
  25. Adjustments! Temple beat Penn State because of adjustments. If you're in a fist fight with someone, and you're beating them, and they pull out a baseball bat, your mindset is not "well I've been beating them, this new thing they have shouldn't deter me from what I've been doing." It should be "oh shit they have a baseball bat I should get something to defend myself from that." On both sides of the ball, adjustments – and, on defense, exhaustion and the loss of one of the team's most vocal leaders – were what killed the team. And now, the second half. God help me.
  26. Huard starts the half by saying Penn State should have taken advantage of the fact that, you know, everyone on Penn State is bigger and faster and stronger. Which makes sense, but conventional wisdom does not exist at The Linc. Shouts to Mark Sanchez.
  27. Lynch had a big run at the beginning of the second half. On the next play, he ran the ball and was met by no holes anywhere. On the next play, he ran the ball and was met by no holes anywhere. On the next play, Hackenberg missed on a throw because his elbow hit Lynch in the helmet. The Aristocrats!
  28. Two random notes, and my eyes could have deceived me: 1) Penn State seems morally opposed to huddling up, 2) Penn State hasn't put Hackenberg under center once. This was fine when the Nittany Lions were speeding up the offense, but after the first quarter, everything got slowed down and it just looked sluggish. Seriously, watch again. The team would huddle after first down and never huddle again unless there was a sack or a penalty. Receivers would just kinda stand there, hear their route and do something. It looked so disorganized.
  29. "You've got to take a shot. You've got perfect field position to do so. Your head coach said at halftime, 'hey to slow down this pass rush and everything that Temple was doing to us, we have got to hit them in the mouth'...where is DaeSean Hamilton? Where are your difference makers out on the perimeter? Show up." Brock Huard if you read this and ever come to State College find me and every beer you drink is going to be on me but be warned I may try to hug you and never let you go.
  30. Huard is now saying that it's unacceptable that PSU's longest pass only went for 18 yards and my god I want to kiss this man on the nose.
  31. Penn State started a drive on its side of the 50, got six yards, punted from Temple's 39. Part of it was because Temple's defense was lights out, but part of it was also because Penn State's play calling was so...conservative. The good news, I guess, was that Hackenberg didn't spend any of that drive on his ass. Hollow victories are still victories, you know.
  32. Temple ran the simplest play and it worked, and it infuriated me. Walker faked a handoff to his running back, pulled the ball back and fired a dart to a receiver who was wide open up the seam because of how overly-aggressive Penn State's defense was on that play. It turns out, when defenses are being aggressive, you can do things to catch them off guard. Who knew?
  33. And then Temple ran the amazing double-reverse pass to Walker. That's an amazing play, and is extra infuriating because this. A few plays later, Walker got hammered, the ball floated in the air and fell into the arms of a receiver who was surrounded by two PSU defenders. Ugh.
  34. In all seriousness, I don't know if Matt Rhule or Ed Foley or Marcus Satterfield calls plays for the Owls, but whoever it was, they were money all day. They knew when to take advantage of certain situations, and most importantly, they trusted that their players would make plays. It seemed like there was no trust in Penn State's players. That is a problem.
  35. A much more positive note: I have a gut feeling that Koa Farmer may move back to linebacker. This is a good thing, because he is so very good. He reminds me of that former rugby player who just made the 49ers' roster. He's just big and fast and strong and physical and is so much fun to watch.
  36. So I think I like the jet sweep. The issue is Penn State only has two potential plays out of it: give it to the receiver, or give it to the running back who runs up the middle towards to opposite direction of the receiver. Remember how I mentioned adjustments earlier? Temple realized this, adjusted, and shut it down.
  37. A word or two on Tyler Matakevich: he rules. He is analogous to Mike Hull in that he always seems to be around the ball. He is amazing. I wish he was on our team, not because our linebackers are bad (I tend to think that they're pretty good), but because he would make any team better.
  38. "It feels like there is very little plan." #BrockHuard4PSUOC
  39. Another thing on Temple's playcalling: Walker nearly threw a pick and it hit Jason Cabinda in a weird part of his arm. The next play, Temple's playcallers let him stand tall in the pocket and fire a ball to a receiver, which went for a first down. That's having confidence in your quarterback.
  40. Know what's not having confidence in your quarterback? Running a play that works and not trusting that he can do anything other than throw that one successful pass. That's what happened on the interception Hackenberg threw. He completed a pass to Chris Godwin, and the very next play out of essentially the same formation, he was told to do the exact same thing. Temple sniffed it right out. I hope the person who decided that the offense should have done the exact same thing twice is ashamed. Trust the most talented pure passer in college football. He's a projected first-rounder for a reason, let him show everyone – namely, apparently, this team's coaches – why.
  41. The two man rush for a sack is the most embarrassing thing I've ever seen. That's all. This was the exact moment that I turned to Devon and said "when do we consider leaving early?" And you know what? Right after, Hackenberg was going up to guys on the sidelines and offering high fives/words of encouragement. God bless him. He's trying his best and he deserves so much better than this.
  42. Now Huard is talking about how good things happen when teams trust their players and seriously I want this man to take over for Eric Barron whenever Barron retires.
  43. The touchdown scored by Jahad Thomas was the moment this game became inevitable. The defense was just gassed, and the play call was great. It was hard to watch in person and it was even harder to watch the replay.
  44. Hackenberg was sacked for the seventh time at the 10:40 mark of the fourth quarter. He was sacked three more times in the game. This is like watching a car accident. And guess what? On the very next play, Penn State – which is down by 14 points and is facing a 3rd-and-12 on its own 18-yard line – calls a screen pass to Lynch. It lost yards. No faith in Hackenberg or the wide receivers at all. Terrible.
  45. So we're at the point of the game that is after I left, and I just saw Hackenberg lob one up for Godwin, who went up and caught it. I had to refrain from putting my fist through a wall. Letting you more talented athletes make plays! What a concept!
  46. It took eight – EIGHT! – sacks for Hackenberg to look like he was banged up at all. There are no words at this point. And then, on a 3rd-and-22, he was getting pressured and was forced to throw a ball approximately eight or nine yards past the line of scrimmage. Even though he needed 22 yards. Nothing makes sense.
  47. Ok, so, there are 76 seconds left in the game. Penn State is down by 17. In order for Penn State to win, miracles would need to happen, and even then, they'd need some help. And Christian Hackenberg, who was sacked eight times, is coming back out. This is negligence of the highest order. I don't care about the rah rah bullshit "WE ALWAYS WANNA COMPETE" attitude that coaches push, you have to think in the long term at this point. Namely because...
  48. ...Christian Hackenberg was sacked two more times before the game ended. Bless his heart, he hopped right back up after each and wanted to go, but I hope that in the locker room after the game, someone – whether it was him or a lineman or Anthony Zettel or anyone – went up to the coaches who decided to keep him in the game and just unloaded on them. The game ended with this, with Hackenberg ending up on his ass twice. In a really embarrassing afternoon, this was the most embarrassing thing, even more than a two-man rush getting a sack.
  49. I know we're all up in arms saying something has to change, but I don't necessarily think that means someone needs to lose their job. What about just a general approach to football? Why not change that? Try to make life easier on everyone, especially on offense. The defense had a rough go, but let's not forget that last year's season opener against UCF wasn't exactly a performance on the level of the '86 Bears. That will get better, I have faith. The offense, I don't know. You have a prodigiously talented quarterback. Let him be a prodigiously talented quarterback. And if you think that it's all because of the offensive line, then just listen to Huard during the broadcast. He saw the same line we did and was still repulsed at the fact that Hackenberg was saddled in an offense which wasn't using any of the physical advantages that literally every skill player had over their opponents. This is inexcusable.
  50. Is it unrealistic to expect that Penn State will win, like, 49-7 over Buffalo? Because I'm going to, and when I'm wrong, I will remember that I said in this space that those expectations are unrealistic, and I'll be mad at myself for caring too much.