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MMQB - Frustrated

SSDD

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’m not 100% sure where to begin with this week’s MMQB.

Another year, another sorta close but sorta not really loss to Ohio State.

Defense was mostly fine, offense was not.

I think what has me frustrated more than anything is that the teams coming into the game looked to be on different paths. The Lions had looked stellar, the Buckeyes had shown weaknesses.

Yet despite being shown how to beat OSU by both Notre Dame and Maryland, the Lions did nothing of the sort.

I should caveat: neither Notre Dame nor Maryland did actually beat OSU. But they had successful game plans that either a) ran out of steam (Notre Dame) or b) suffered from a lack of meaningful depth (Maryland).

Penn State in 2023 doesn’t suffer from either of those things, yet they looked completely hapless for infuriatingly long stretches of this game.

I’m actually going to vent about the defense for just a minute. Yes, the defense that held Ohio State to just 20 points, and only 13 through the mid-point of the fourth quarter.

Can anyone explain to me Marvin Harrison’s stat line? I’m not going to sit here and tell you that a receiver as good as Harrison would be completely shut down, but for the second year in a row, he completely wrecked whatever other positives the Penn State defense had put together. 11 catches, 162 yards, and the final, nail-in-the-coffin touchdown.

Let’s add on that in the first TD drive for OSU, it was a holding penalty that Kalen King committed on Harrison that negated Curtis Jacob’s scoop and score, one of the more back-breaking penalties I’ve ever seen. Was there any particular reason that Manny Diaz left King on an island all day to get picked apart? Hubris? Because without Chop Robinson out there, the pass rush was nowhere near as effective, and a second DB helping out may have made a huge difference.

What do I know, I’m just a blogger. Other than that, I thought the defense played admirably, given the help they were getting from the other side of the ball.

Let’s talk offense, shall we?

What the hell was that?

Penn State’s receivers are not great this year. Sucks, but it is what it is at this point.

Why did Drew Allar throw it 42 times?

Especially when he was completing passes at a clip of just 43%?

Why did Nicholas Singleton carry the ball just 9 times?

Why did Kaytron Allen carry the ball just 9 times?

Why did Drew Allar carry the ball 7 times? Granted, I think almost all of those were scrambles, but that would imply that Drew dropped back 49 times to pass when the Lions can’t complete a pass more than 5 yards downfield.

Seriously, someone explain to me the logic behind having your two bell cow ball carriers combine for 18 carries, when the Lions are ostensibly a run-first team? Why not do your quarterback a favor and RUN THE DANG BALL.

1 of 16 on third down.

1. Of 16. On third down.

My mind is boggled.

It’s like the reverse script from the Michigan game last year. The offense in that game wasn’t great, but at least had a game plan. Meanwhile, the defense in that game had perhaps the worst game plan I’ve ever seen, and got destroyed in the run game.

Here we are a year later, and the defense (mostly) played a good game, while the offense showed up and pulled out one of the worst game plans I’ve seen them run.

So, whatever. Another year, another shot at 10-2. Another decent bowl, maybe even edge into a New Year’s Six again. Cool. A whole bunch of teams would kill for that kind of season.

But the Lions want more. James Franklin wants more. So for this to be the norm is just unacceptable. Maybe the team can break through once they’re not in the same division as Ohio State and Michigan, though seeing the likes of USC, Oregon, and Washington join the fray is certainly going to muddy the waters. Maybe the team can break through in a 12-team playoff, where the regular season isn’t by itself a death sentence to a national championship.

Who knows, but the window on making the 4-team playoff has all but shut for another year, and it’s simply frustrating.