Through three games, the Penn State Nittany Lions appear to have righted the ship a bit. After stumbling out of the gate against Appalachian State - a team that I believe is at least a top 25 program, and would finish solidly in the middle of the Big Ten this year - the Lions have outscored Pitt and Kent State 114-16. By the scoreboard alone, you’d think that PSU is firing on all cylinders.
But they’re not.
This team is very young, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Through three weeks, we’ve seen dropped balls, edge rushers getting so far up field that they take themselves out of the play, and penalties. Watching the games, it’s very apparent that Penn State has a plethora of talent - I directly credit the win over Pitt to the quality of depth the Lions enjoy over the Panthers.
But that talent is young and inexperienced. That leads to kids getting too hyped up and committing dumb penalties, or taking themselves out of plays by over-pursuing. The coaches have done a good job, particularly at half time, of applying the needed corrections. And the quality of opponent thus far has meant that those errors have not been costly.
But unless some of the young, over-excited players learn to harness that energy and keep the game in front of them, sooner or later an opponent is going to come along that won’t simply be outmatched by talent. Here’s hoping these kids mature in the next 9 days before Ohio State comes to town.