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35 Random Thoughts on Rutgers

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Random musings on the weekend that was in Piscataway

NCAA Football: Penn State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday evening, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights engaged in a contest of American football at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious, 39-0. I have some thoughts, which are randomly set forth below

  1. This was an 8:00 p.m. kickoff against a division rival on national television in November, with conference title and potential college football playoff implications.
  2. Despite all of that, this game was dreadfully boring. That’s not meant to be disrespectful to Penn State’s players, who obviously laid down the hammer, but it wasn’t exactly an enthralling game.
  3. Pretty sure that I jinxed Penn State last week after discussing the consecutive hot starts that this team had gotten off to since the Maryland game in early-October. This week, Miles Sanders lets the opening kickoff bounce off of his hands and into the arms of KJ Gray.
  4. If that wasn’t enough, Penn State’s offense got into the act as well, going 3-and-out on its first series.
  5. Penn State’s first offensive possession was the epitome of conservative - McSorley and Barkley run 3 times to 9 yards before punting. Impressive.
  6. Despite this start Rutgers managed to be even worse. After that Sanders fumble, Rutgers lost 7 yards and missed a make-able field goal attempt.
  7. What do you think Chris Ash is thinking on the sidelines after that first series?
  8. What do you think Chris Ash is thinking when he gets home late on Saturday night?
  9. What do you think Chris Ash is drinking when he gets home late on Saturday night?
  10. For those of you unimpressed by Trace McSorley thus far, this game probably didn’t do much to move your opinion. A shade over 50% passing, a shade over 200 yards, one touchdown (on a screen pass and incredible run by Mark Allen), and two almost picks.
  11. McSorley’s 11 carries for 55 yards, however, shouldn’t be discounted. He consistently picks up enough yards to keep defenses honest. Still, I’d like to see him be closer to 60% completions.
  12. Joe Moorhead’s offense is certainly effective scoring points. For those of you who understand the Fordham scheme, are we looking at a fairly typical Moorhead design? Or do the consistent vertical challenges and out patterns play specifically into our personnel?
  13. In any event, the offense really struggled to do much of value in the first half, and that’s a concern against anyone.
  14. Fortunately, we were playing Rutgers.
  15. This game was difficult to watch, but never stressful. Even if Penn State was only kicking field goals, they were still holding Rutgers to less than 80 yards in the first half. This is an FBS football program.
  16. This is an FBS football program?
  17. I can’t figure out if the fact that Rutgers performed even worse in the second half is a credit to Penn State’s defense or a criticism of the Rutgers offense. Perhaps a little of both.
  18. Brandon Bell, Jason Cabinda, and Manny Bowen. Three starting linebackers, all from New Jersey.
  19. Mike Gesicki, Penn State’s starting tight end who caught 5 passes on Saturday night. He’s from New Jersey.
  20. Garrett Sickels, Antoine White, Brandon Mahon, Saeed Blacknall, and Irvin Charles? All from New Jersey.
  21. Oh, and I’m not sure if you’ve heard this, but Saquon Barkley originally committed to Rutgers.
  22. Rutgers fans must see the above-mentioned names and take the Terrelle Pryor pose to a whole ‘nother level.
  23. Recruiting athletes is necessary for multiple reasons. It’s important to have difference makers on the field, but the place where it looks like James Franklin’s recruiting prowess has made the most difference is on special teams.
  24. Juwan Johnson’s punt block was the most recent of a spate of big special teams plays made by Penn State’s young athletes. Johnson doesn’t play as many snaps as you’d imagine given the strong depth at receiver, but putting him on special teams allows him to contribute and gain experience. See also: Brown, Cam.
  25. Barkley had a solid day, but nothing spectacular. He contributed both running and receiving, scored, and scored. I was glad to see him sit out the rest of the game after getting shaken up. No need to risk the health of your best player against this squad.
  26. The passing game really suffered due to the weather. I don’t think the broadcast did justice to the feel of the place.
  27. The reason Rutgers will always be Rutgers and we will always be Penn State is best illustrated by the look of the stands in the second half. Penn State matters because fans are loyal. Rutgers fans refuse to brave the weather to support a struggling team and a young head coach. That’s the kind of thing that sets a program back for years.
  28. Every running back we have can contribute at a high level. I’m glad to see Andre Robinson get so much work. The kid is a bulldozer. I’m not clear whether he spelled Barkley and eventually came in after Barkley was hurt because he’s next on the depth chart, or because Sanders had to sit for fumbling the opening kickoff.
  29. That Miles Sanders run where he turned on the jets is exactly the reason he was the top running back recruit in the country.
  30. There’s no question that Mark Allen is buried on the depth chart, but I still believe he has a place on this team. He scored on a video game highlight.
  31. That penalty was ridiculous. Allen celebrated hard, but he definitely took his helmet off when he was on the sideline after the play.
  32. A lot has been made of the multiple shut outs that Rutgers has taken this year, but I really enjoy this stat - in the last 10 quarters against each other, Penn State leads Rutgers 80-3.
  33. Get in, get the win, get out relatively healthy. Mission accomplished.
  34. On to Michigan State.
  35. We are ...