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46 Random Thoughts on Georgia State

Random musings about the weekend that was against the Panthers

NCAA Football: Georgia State at Penn State Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Georgia State Panthers engaged in a contest of American football under the lights at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious by the mildly controversial score of 56-0. I have some thoughts, which are randomly set forth below:

  1. There’s something special about Beaver Stadium under the lights, no matter what the opponent. The Miami teams of the early-aughts, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa at their recent peaks, Nebraska coming off of a BCS Title Game appearance, and Fiesta Bowl-bound one-off University of Central Florida (#Bortles) were all either strong squads or historic powers when they hit the grass for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff in State College.
  2. A few years ago, we somehow managed to make Rutgers into a night game. In retrospect, it was sensible. Rutgers was a regional school we had a long history of playing and was making their first visit to Beaver Stadium as a Big Ten member following a back-and-forth affair that Penn State won in 2014 in Piscataway. I’m not sure anyone thought we’d win 28-3, but that was a nice surprise.
  3. We’ve now run the gamut with Georgia State. Eight years ago, this program didn’t even exist. Seven years ago, they were an FCS program. Now, they’re playing under the lights before 100,000 people.
  4. The line on this game was Penn State -38.5. The Nittany Lions beat the spread handily. And yet, I have to say, despite the opponent, the electricity of Beaver Stadium at night was apparent to those of us watching at home.
  5. It helps when the home team throws haymakers like Mike Tyson in his prime.
  6. Let’s take a moment to thank Georgia State for bringing us Blake Gillikin.
  7. Let’s also thank Georgia State for bringing us Shawn Elliott, a head coach who managed to give a top 5 team plenty of bulletin board material.
  8. Seriously, what’s this guy’s deal? Prior to the game, he apparently said that Penn State “matches up favorably with SEC teams.” Oh, really? Thanks for the high praise.
  9. On second thought, Shawn Elliott might be so brainwashed that he truly believes the only good football played in America exists in the Southeastern Conference.
  10. Did anyone catch the broadcast team talking about Elliott’s halftime comments? Penn State apparently scored “cheap points” in the first half.
  11. It was 35-0 at halftime.
  12. The following were the “cheap” scores Coach Elliott is referring to - (1) Touchdown Tommy Stevens’ touchdown reception; (2) Saquon Barkley’s 85-yard touchdown catch and run that was featured all over every sports news outlet in the country for the next two days; (3) A 27-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton, a fifth year senior receiver with a long track record; (4) a 29-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders where he raced through multiple defenders; (5) an 8-yard touchdown run by Trace McSorley on an option keeper, the most standard play in our offense.
  13. Yup, truly cheap points. What a hack. James Franklin probably didn’t hear those comments, but I would’ve iced Georgia State’s kicker in a blowout for those lame halftime excuses alone.
  14. Speaking of Coach Franklin, I want to say hello, since I’m certain he’s a regular reader. You might remember in the Random Thoughts post on Akron (actually Akron, not Pitt), I noted my disappointment in Penn Staters for only turning out a crowd of 101,684 people for the season opener, particularly in light of all of the bonafide stars this team offers.
  15. Early in the broadcast, our fearless announce crew spoke about their conversations with Coach Franklin, who mentioned expectations and fan concerns about “only having 102,000 people in the stands.”
  16. Obviously, that comment was referring to us. No doubt about it whatsoever.
  17. So on behalf of all of BSD, I just want to say, Coach, you’re doing a great job and this team looks awesome. We’re proud to see nearly 103,000 in the stands for Georgia State and can’t wait to see the attendance record broken against Michigan in October.
  18. No pressure.
  19. Anyway, this game was fun and low stress. That’s always good for the week after a rivalry game.
  20. Trace looked like Trace again, maybe even better. He was exceptionally efficient while putting together explosive play after explosive play.
  21. A lot has been said about Barkley’s highlight reel touchdown reception that saw him juke a defender and race past a few others on his way to the end zone. Let’s dispense with this now - Saquon Barkley was, is, remains, and will continue to be the Truth. He is a once in a generation talent for any college program, and we should cherish every minute he’s here. He’s a polite kid who stays out of trouble, signs every autograph, takes every photo, and, in his spare time, make defenses look ridiculous.
  22. Let’s talk about the unsung heroes of this play, though. Trace McSorley had a solid 15 yard gain in front of him on that play, but kept an eye on Barkley and made the right read when he saw him in space.
  23. You also can’t knock the hustle from Brandon Polk, who raced down the field with Barkley and attempted to cut off potential tacklers. Barkley was going to score anyway, but that’s all about effort and #attitude. Pat Chambers would be proud.
  24. Likewise, the first Tommy Stevens touchdown was a function of creative playcalling and our backup quarterback’s athleticism, but we need to go out of our way to recognize DaeSean Hamilton and DeAndre Thompkins who drive block better than our offensive line, creating space Stevens to get through the lane. Our wide receivers take their blocking responsibilities to another level each and every week.
  25. That was not, by the way, a sleight to our offensive line. In fact, contrary to a recent developing narrative, I think the line generally looks fine. Yes, Barkley averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and without his big run at the end of the half, it was about 1.6 yards per carry. But take a look at the other running backs and designed QB runs. Outside of Barkley, the team averaged 8.5 yards per carry. That includes runs for 15 and 29 yards for Miles Sanders, 41 yards for Andre Robinson, and an eight yard carry by Mark Allen, all of which occurred when Barkley was taking a breather.
  26. Yes, it’s Georgia State, but if you send 10 guys at Saquon Barkley, that’s what you’re going to get when you hand the ball off to him - either an incredible run or a stuff. The flip side to this, of course, is that he opens space for everyone around him.
  27. Nice to see the wide receivers get involved in the points parade this week. Anyone who wants to pick on McSorley’s arm strength can take a look at the frozen rope he threw to Polk over the middle for the touchdown.
  28. Harkening back to last week, I’m still waiting for you all to rejoin me on the DaeSean Hamilton train. This week, 3 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.
  29. I’m still expecting more out of Juwan Johnson and Irvin Charles, two huge targets who should be coming into their own. Johnson had a quiet night, Charles one that was non-existent. They are great prospects to turn into number 1 receivers, and the light has to turn on eventually.
  30. Welcome back, Saeed Blacknall. It’s good to see you again. Beautiful touchdown catch.
  31. Tommy Stevens - my goodness what a cannon. That was a pass for the ages, standing in the pocket and delivering a laser before taking the hit.
  32. I still can’t believe Georgia State has a running back named Taz. But he definitely has some game in him and worked hard for those 100 yards. Congratulations to him.
  33. The defense had an interesting day. The line gets a fair amount of pressure, but my concern remains in the middle with the linebackers. Missed tackles and sometimes out of position continue to be a factor.
  34. Sometimes, though, it’s about playcalling and guessing right. A good example came in the third quarter. We blitzed the right side of the Panther offensive line and it collapsed. They ran left, though, and blocked to create a crease for the running back (I think it was Winchester) to run through for a solid gain.
  35. On the next play, the defensive line collapsed the right side and middle of the Panther offensive line, and it resulted in the three yard loss.
  36. I can’t tell whether we’re playing soft zone coverage and doing some zone blitzing that allow for the return of “bend but don’t break,” but that’s what it looks like to my untrained eye. Maybe bscaff can help us out with that.
  37. Whatever it is, it does seem to be working. Not that we’ve faced world beater offenses, but the defense has given up a single touchdown and 14 total points over the first three games, and this week they pulled down 3 picks and forced 2 lost fumbles.
  38. Guess who made big plays on defense? If you answer Marcus Allen and Grant Haley, come claim your prize.
  39. Seriously, can we start a Go Fund Me to get a replacement statue built for these two? They just continue to feed off of each other and give great energy to the crowd and their teammates.
  40. I just looked it up - Andre Robinson is smaller than Saquon Barkley. By seven pounds. I never would have guessed that.
  41. In either case, our resident 5’9, 223 pound bowling bowl looked like a runaway train on his way to the house in the fourth quarter. It might’ve been my favorite score of the game. I just love that kid.
  42. It was probably good for Miles Sanders’ confidence to get into the end zone on Saturday after a tough fumble against his hometown squad two weeks ago. Between him, Robinson, and incoming Ricky Slade, we’re in great shape for the foreseeable future.
  43. Can’t hate on Mark Allen either. I’m still convinced he’d start and play a lot more at a lot of schools, but he definitely has a place on this team and can be productive.
  44. All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday. Let’s see what we can do this week when we’re under the lights once more.
  45. On to Iowa.
  46. We are...