I’m sure I’m capable of being far more eloquent when writing a lede, but that sums it up pretty damn well.
Before we dive into takeaways from Penn State’s loss to Sparty, I’ll preface it with this; Never let anybody tell you that you can’t be angry about Penn State losing. Whether they say that because of where the program was just years ago, or whether they say that you should just be happy to be here, do not let anyone tell you how you should feel or are allowed to feel.
Are there always irrational overreactions after an emotional loss? Sure. Do these losses mean that the program has some fatal flaw that needs to be fixed? Probably not. But you’re perfectly justified in being angry or being hurt. This was “our year” and it just didn’t come together and that stinks.
That being said, here are my three takeaways from Penn State’s loss to Michigan State on Saturday.
1. Sometimes it comes down to Jimmies and Joes, not Xs and Os
Was Saturday the best game that James Franklin, Joe Moorhead or Brent Pry has ever coached? Probably not. They’ll all tell you as much. But more than a few times the coaches put their players in positions to succeed and the players just didn’t execute. We saw it when Trace McSorley under-threw Saeed Blacknall and turned a touchdown into a turnover. We saw it when Deandre Thompkins dropped a crucial pass on fourth and three late in the game, and we saw it when Marcus Allen took an egregious roughing the passer penalty late in the game to help set up the Spartans for the winning field goal. The job of the coaches is to put the players in positions to go out and win the game, the players then need to go out and execute and, on Saturday, Penn State failed to execute.
2. Penn State just doesn’t have enough depth to be a playoff team
I sat here last week and typed almost this same takeaway, so it’s a bit of a cop out to type it again, but it’s true nonetheless. Penn State and James Franklin have not had enough recruiting cycles to build the necessary depth that comes with a grueling college football season. The impact of the losses of Torrence Brown, Ryan Buchholz and Ryan Bates has been felt heavily the last two weeks and there’s nobody on the roster quite ready to fill those shoes at this point.
3. Even the best college athletes are still just college athletes
Marcus Allen’s late hit on Brian Lewerke broke my heart. I was upset, I was angry and I didn’t know how to take out that frustration. But I did know that the answer was not going to be found in insulting Marcus Allen or making a point of directly belittling him, and anybody who did so should be ashamed of themselves. Allen has been the heartbeat of this team the last two seasons through both good and bad. To think he would do anything to intentionally harm his team, or his school, or his fans is absolutely ludicrous. What happened on Saturday was a mistake made in the middle of fast-paced, emotional game. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m sure he’s just as angry about it as anybody. Be hurt. Be upset. Be confused. But be anything other than stupid and rude.