First road game. 11 AM local start time. Bret Bielema coached team. Despite the fact the Illini had not looked impressive during their first two games of the season, this game had the recipe for a sloppy, ugly game for Penn State.
Through the first half, that was certainly the case for the offense. Despite the defense generating three turnovers in the first 30 minutes, Mike Yurcich’s crew could not get it going, only capitalizing for 13 points even with the favorable field position. Drew Allar, for the first time this season, looked like a quarterback who was in his first season starting. He wasn’t aided by the offensive line or receivers — who both had subpar days — but he didn’t do a whole lot to pick up the unit either.
In the grand scheme of things, it was likely a necessary day for Allar and the offense in general. Through a 12-15 game season, there’s gonna be games where things are struggle. But that’s where self-scouting comes into the equation. What worked, what didn’t? What changes can be made formation-wise? What changes can be made play call-wise? What looks did Allar see that he’ll be better deciphering later this season?
As much as fans might have liked to see it, Penn State’s offense was not going to go through the season without some bumps. But now with a “bleh” performance on film, it’s imperative they learn from it.
Let’s talk about the positives though: the defense. Holy cow, did Manny Diaz’s group wreak havoc, forcing five turnovers on the afternoon. Specifically, it was the Nittany Lions’ pass defense that caused fits for Illinois’ quarterback Luke Altmyer. Adbul Carter, Daequan Hardy, Johnny Dixon, and Cam Miller all picked off Altmyer on Saturday, stopping potential scoring drives for the Illini and stealing momentum in the process.
Really, that’s the beauty of this Penn State team: it is not completely dependent on just the offense or the defense. It’s a balanced team that can win in just about any type of way. So for as sloppy as today might have been, there’s value in being able to win games in ugly fashion.