It’s difficult not to look ahead to next Saturday night’s contest with Ohio State, for lots of reasons. It’s a big game. It’s a good opponent. Last Saturday’s fix against Kent State - also from Ohio - fit neither of those descriptions. And, sadly, neither does this Friday night’s opponent, Illinois, who is nearly a 4 touchdown home underdog to our Nittany Lions.
But we’re following Coach Franklin’s lead, and trying to go 1-0 this week. Even if the game is played on Friday.
Kill The Lights
It’s not easy to glean much of value from PSU’s 63-10 thrashing of Kent State. But here’s one thing we noticed - the speed with with QB Trace McSorley made read-option decisions when a defender crashed the mesh point.
First, for reference, we grabbed the gif below out of the way-back machine. Northwestern’s intentionally unblocked DE crashes the mesh point. Chaos ensues.
Contrast that to the gif below from last Saturday. To be certain, this isn’t the same play - Trace has to be quicker on the read with the motioning jet sweep. But, it certainly seemed like a trend all game long, and not an isolated incident. Regardless, this read below happens much faster, and crisper, than last year at Northwestern.
That’s good news. Decisive reads in the option attack usually make for better rushing numbers, even without Saquon Barkley.
Here’s more good news. As evidenced in the gif below, Illinois will play the ol’ 1990s “Tampa 2” zone, against a 3x1 set, with a safety who bites liberally on the underneath “cheese” routes.
Plus, since it’s still September, the Memorial Stadium winds shouldn’t be swirling at 50 mph Friday night. Hopefully Ricky Rahne baits the trap a few times, and Trace bombs the Illini into oblivion early, so we can all get to bed at a decent hour.
Hit The Lights
South Florida outgained Illinois last Saturday 626 - 380. The Bulls had just one 3-and-out all day, whilst throwing for 411 and rushing for 215 (at 5 yards per rush). These stats portend good things for Dear Old State’s offense Friday night.