Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Joe Moorhead's arrival to Happy Valley brought hopes of exotic, rarely seen things like "points" and "first downs" to the hearts of the blue and white faithful. Saturday's Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage delivered...some of that.
What does that mean? Well, let's save the conclusion for the, uhh, conclusion. For now...
Kill The Lights
Below is the first offensive snap from the 1's - and it's a really cool play. We're starting on a real positive note here.
Basically, it's a middle screen (using the C and TE) done up as a shovel pass. "New" + "worked" is noteworthy. The other noteworthy thing here is that Penn State completed a screen pass, which counts as the first completed / successful screen pass executed by the Nittany Lions since 1997, before Aaron Harris tore up his knee. So that was neat.
After last year's farce against Army, you might think we're done running "power". You'd be wrong. Apparently we're not done running power. Here is right tackle Noah Beh pulling to lead #8 Mark Allen on a counter, but LT Andrew Nelson gets surprised (and beaten) inside by #46, Costan Castagna. This is not the last time you'll hear from Castagna in this scrimmage.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ARM STRUNGTHE?
So dust off your geometry textbook. Here's Trace McSorley throwing a 12-yard comeback (completed at 9 yards) from the opposite hash. According to Pythagoras, that is a 34-yard pass. No, it's not your big boy, 18-yard comeback from the far hash - but it's plenty good enough for college.
On a downer, however, Blue runs a slide protection, with TE Mike Gesicki getting a "wham" on the aforementioned Colin Castagna, which is exactly the same protection as you see in this depressing video link.
Last year, this ISO BOB got tackled for a 3-yard loss because there were two more not-blocking tight ends on the field, and 4 more defenders "in the box". This year, even though #88 is your "ISO BOB" lead blocker, #8 Mark Allen can take the handoff and run outside, because 1) the backup DE gets collapsed inside, and 2) "the spread" means there's no one else out there (i.e., "the spread" removes defenders we can't block from the box, rather than adding more defenders we can't block to the box. This is "football science".)
Hurry up, no huddle, get set, look to the sideline - and let your OC call "4 verts" to take advantage of "Cover 3" . One deep defender for each third of the field (in this instance, safety #7 Koa Farmer) can't cover two receivers in the same third (this is why everyone runs "quarters" coverage these days). McSorley hits Gesicki for a big gain.
Here's something familiar from the last two years - but one of the few things we actually liked. It's the ol' "run-pass" option. That is, the OL run blocks (with LT Nelson pulling to the right, while RB #8 Allen runs the counter), while the receivers run pass routes.
McSorley makes the play. He recognizes S Farmer dropping down after the snap of the ball - and knows that WR Godwin is singled up on the slant to the backside. McSorley pulls the ball away from Allen on the read, hitches, and fires a dart at Godwin, who, in typical Godwin fashion, breaks a tackle and crosses the goal line. Yes, Gaia and Nelson are both dangerously close to the "illegal man downfield" thing - but it never gets called, and it sure sucked in the linebackers, didn't it?
Hit The Lights
You'll notice one more thing from all of these gifs - the defensive front for every snap was the same, the backend coverage was the same (cover 3), and new full-time DC Brent Pry called zero blitzes. None, nada, not a one. They didn't really even run any DL stunts. Compare that to 2 years previous, when Bob Shoop blitzed Christian Macklenberger at a 50% rate, while also mixing fronts (between 43-under, 43-over, and 34) and coverages. So, this year the staff did everything to prop up the first-team offense. (Apparently, even God was in on the plan, because He delivered a temperate, cloudless day.)
It does seem, though, that Coach Joe Moorhead installed some much needed changes. Namely:
- the 50-word play terminology and mandatory huddling appear to be gone, as evidenced by the 1's eschewing the huddle on their first possession, changing formations, and still being able to execute plays in less than 30 seconds. It...it (was) indescribably beautiful.
- The meerkating, and tweaking route combinations at the line (which resulted in the big gainer to Gesicki up the seam) is a good thing, because running plays that gain yards is both hip and cool. Plus the kids love it.
- Spread 'Em Out. If we're not going to dominate the line of scrimmage - and, let's face it: we're not - then thank you for spreading out the defense, and giving Saquon Barkley 4 defenders to juke instead of 8.