Penn State hosted Indiana on Saturday with some snazzy uniforms and a juiced up crowd of over 107,000 for its “Generations of Greatness” game and walked away with a comfortable 45-14 victory. These were my takeaways:
1. Penn State is (probably) a pretty good football team
If you’re like the rest of #PennStateTwitter, you were probably a little turned off by Penn State’s mediocre performance between the start of the second quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. Well, that’s fair. The Nittany Lions were fairly lethargic for much of the ball game after getting off to a quick 28-0 start. The good news is, however, that Penn State (particularly offensively) played a less than stellar football game and still beat the brakes off an Power 5 team that will in all likelihood go bowling this year. It’s a sign of a good team when you can play below your best and still walk away with a comfortable win.
2. Penn State’s defense is its best unit
The 2016 rendition of the Penn State offense is, to this point, unquestionably better than the 2017 version. The Nittany Lions are far more dangerous this year due to the emergence of what looks like a seriously strong defense. Brent Pry’s unit flies to the ball and creates turnovers on the regular. They’ve shown the ability to pick up the offense when it’s sputtering and that makes Penn State all the more difficult to beat.
3. Trace McSorley is a bit gun shy
Trace McSorley, as we stated last week, is unquestionably the man at quarterback for Penn State going forward. He has, however, struggled at times in 2017 and I have a theory:
Last year, McSorley benefited from his wide receivers making plays one-on-one down the field. This season, that seems to have gone away. While the departure of Chris Godwin to the NFL is undoubtedly part of that, one has to wonder whether the ending to last year’s Rose Bowl still sits in McSorley’s mind. The game, of course, ended with a USC game-winning field goal after McSorley was intercepted on a deep ball.
Might the junior quarterback be lacking a bit for confidence after that play? We saw on deep balls to Daesean Hamilton and Deandre Thompkins late in the game what can happen if he trusts his wide receivers to make a play. While we don’t want to see more interceptions, McSorley may want to trust his wideouts a bit more in the coming weeks to make plays for him down the field.