Two Things I Liked...
1. Bouncing Back From A Bad First Half
Should Penn State have been in a position where it was down 10-7 to Buffalo? Absolutely not. The Bulls dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half, controlled the ball, and quite honestly bullied the Nittany Lions. Fortunately though, a flip was switched at halftime, with Penn State going on a 38-3 scoring stretch for the final 30 minutes.
Still, while it would have been preferred that the Nittany Lions dominated from start to finish, I think there’s something to be said for a young team being put in an adverse situation and responding rather well. Of course, I said a similar thing after the App State game last year, but new year, new team. Let’s hope that this one got the wake up call loud and clear.
2. Sean Clifford
What can ya say? 16-for-22 for 279 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 51 yards on the ground — the kid played incredibly well. Not that there was necessarily a lack of belief in Clifford headed into the season. I feel like the large majority of Penn State fans were confident in what he could be. And sure, there is still a ways to go, but it was great to see him with a standout performance during a second half where the Nittany Lions needed him to make some plays.
Just please, for the love of the good Lord, stop keeping it so often on zone reads. Yes, the 58-yard scamper was cool — and at the time, much needed — but Clifford can’t afford the extra hits from the two-yard runs up the middle.
Two Things I Didn’t Like...
1. Running Game
Penn State’s running backs combined for 39 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Buffalo’s running backs combined for 184 rushing yards on 51 carries.
There is no reason that Buffalo’s offensive line should have had more success against Penn State’s defensive line than Penn State’s offensive line had against Buffalo’s defensive line. I don’t know math lingo well enough to make a good joke here, but that equation sucks. I mean, I knew there would be some kinks with the offensive line, but positive takeaways in the running game were few and far between.
2. Third Down Conversions
Penn State was 1-for-8 on third down conversions last week, and unfortunately, it wasn’t all that much better this week, going just 2-for-9. This has, frustratingly, been a hallmark of the Moorhead offense ever since its been installed in Happy Valley, but still — would like to Penn State execute on third downs against the likes of Idaho and Buffalo.