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29 Random Thoughts After The Ohio State Game

Welp, we’re back.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State at Utah Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One last article on this stupid game and then we are onto Indiana and eventually talking ourselves into beating Michigan since they won’t know Penn State’s plays beforehand.

  1. This game suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
  2. Have I mentioned I drove from Philadelphia to Columbus for this game? With gas/food/bathroom stops, that’s eight hours. *Nothing* makes you feel dumber than watching an inept offense not score a touchdown for 90% of the game when you willingly spent a 13 of your Friday in a car to watch it LIVE!
  3. Ohio State fans were nicer to me this year than they were in 2019. I only got called a bad-word like two or three times.
  4. Anyway, where to even begin? There’s so much that can be said about the game, but my main takeaway was that Penn State just didn’t seem prepared in the way it has been for past Ohio State games.
  5. The offensive game plan was conservative and basic, and when Ohio State keyed in on it, Mike Yurcich and Co. had essentially no counterpunch outside of a couple trick plays. It was just doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for better results against a defense that was ready for an offense afraid to make mistakes.
  6. James Franklin said at his press conference on Tuesday that he thought this team’s offensive identity was staying on schedule, getting into manageable third down situations, and converting them. That’s a fine philosophy to have, but as I have been screaming into the void all season: You. Need. To. Have. Some. Explosive. Plays.
  7. Every series can’t just be 10+ play drives where you need to convert multiple third downs. That level of efficiency just isn’t realistic, especially against the very best defenses in the country like Ohio State. You need those quick scores to balance things out.
  8. One of the quagmires for the Penn State offense is the wide receivers. It’s an average unit that needed a couple guys to take steps forward and they just haven’t.
  9. KeAndre Lambert-Smith is a solid WR2 that is forced to be WR1.
  10. Trey Wallace is a WR3 or WR4 and is being asked to be a WR2.
  11. They don’t fully trust Dante Cephas’ knowledge of the playbook, while Malik McClain has been glued to the bench since his drops against Illinois.
  12. Second-year players like Omari Evans and Kaden Saunders have barely seen any run.
  13. So the play at wide receiver is 100% an issue. But this offense had six games to work on this in real time against live opponents, and instead, they were happy dinking and dunking the ball. Drew Allar had *eight* passes travel over 20 yards in the air prior to the Ohio State game despite playing the likes of UMass, Delaware, and Northwestern. As Bill Connelly said, that’s service academy-esque stats.
  14. There’s something to not just chucking it deep for the sake of it, but there should have been a greater level of commitment to opening up this offense before going into the Horseshoe.
  15. I’ve seen some varying takes about the offensive line play, but I thought they were pretty solid overall on Saturday. I think *any* offensive line wouldn’t look dominant when you have a defense that knows they won’t be tested much beyond the first down marker.
  16. The defense played extraordinary. I wish I could take all of them and teleport back to 2016 and 2017 and enjoy College Football Playoff Finalist Penn State.
  17. There was a point in the game where it seemed more likely the defense would score a touchdown than the offense, which says a lot about both sides right now.
  18. Ryan Day obviously thought similarly, given that he had three timeouts and 40 seconds left before halftime and just decided to take a knee. It was like the modern day version of Iowa taking a safety in the 6-4 game.
  19. Marvin Harrison Jr. is awesome and Ohio State deserves a lot of credit for their offensive game plan basically being “get Harrison Jr. the ball as much as we can.” But I do want to point out: Harrison Jr. has only had two games of double-digit receptions during his career. One was this past Saturday against Penn State, and the other was last October against...Penn State.
  20. Again, the defense was fantastic and not the issue, but with Ohio State without Emeka Egbuka, you would have hoped that Penn State could have shaded even more help toward Harrison Jr..
  21. Which, by the way, I was wrong on Kalen King not getting the full Harrison Jr. assignment. Penn State basically had King shadow Harrison Jr. throughout the day so hand up on that one for me.
  22. Scary injury for Chop Robinson. I know Penn State doesn’t disclose specific injuries, but clearly he is concussed. I imagine he’ll be out for Indiana at the least, even if it’s extremely precautionary. Rather be safe than sorry.
  23. Let’s talk about Drew Allar, who was not good. As he said himself with tears in his eyes after the game, he sucked. Obviously, I don’t think he was put into the best situation to succeed given the game plan, but he did not rise up to the occasion either.
  24. As I mentioned before, I hope this offense opens things up a bit the next few weeks leading into Michigan and beyond. I understand wanting to keep things simple for Drew and teaching him that he doesn’t need to be Superman every play, but it’s a disservice to his talent to use him as a de facto game manager. Let him air the ball out, and let him make mistakes. 283 career passing attempts without an interception clearly shows he’s smart with the ball and well-coached; now let’s take the training wheels off.
  25. One last thing on Allar’s postgame interview: I have a lot of respect for him facing the music and answering every question that was asked of him. Not that there was any doubt, but you can see he’s a genuinely good kid. Honored to go to battle with/for him.
  26. Alex Felkins and Riley Thompson were both solid. Of course it’d be nice to have a punter with a slightly bigger leg, but hey, compared to how I thought things were going to be before the season for the special teams, I’ll take what we have seen thus far.
  27. Daequan Hardy allowing that punt to drop and roll for what felt like an extra 93 yards was a killer. With the benefit of hindsight, seems doubtful the offense would have done much with it but that was prime field position they just gave away.
  28. Big picture take: I like James Franklin. I don’t want him fired. I think he is a very good coach, especially given all the hats a coach must wear in the modern game. I think that Penn State needs to continue to make strides when it comes to things like NIL, athlete housing, and whatever else pops up as “important” in the college football world over the next decade.
  29. I can have those beliefs while still thinking that Franklin let one get away on Saturday, and that his hubris might have played a part in that. After the Ohio State game in 2018, he talked about making sure everyone involved with the program is uncomfortable because that’s where growth comes from. You aren’t going to improve unless you are challenged. So I wonder, from a game day and game planning perspective, has there been growth for Franklin over the last five years? Has he challenged his own process in the week leading up to a big game?