In case you missed it yesterday, I am taking over Random Thoughts this season, which means the “Two Things I Liked, Two Things I Didn’t Like” would have likely just been me repeating myself for the second time in as many days. So instead, we are debuting “Stock Up, Stock Down” where I’ll take a look at not only Penn State but the larger college football world as a whole. Here are the rules:
- One blurb for Down & Up must be Penn State-focused.
- One blurb for Down & Up must be Big Ten-focused.
- One blurb for Down & Up must be nationally-focused.
- The rules don’t matter, and I can do whatever I want with the blurbs.
- Rule #4 trumps all the other rules, including this one.
The “Other” Wide Receivers
One of the biggest question marks Penn State had coming into the season was the depth at wide receiver. James Franklin had mentioned multiple times throughout the offseason that it was KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Harrison “Trey” Wallace, and then everyone else out wide. While Lambert-Smith (4 receptions for 123 yards and 2 TDs) and Wallace (7 receptions for 72 yards) continued to be the focal point at wide receiver, it was a good night for “the others.” Florida State transfer Malik McClain looked comfortable all night, with the exclamation point being his 25-yard touchdown where he showcased top-tier wheels.
Liam Clifford too had a solid game, albeit a quiet one, hauling in 2 receptions for 25 yards. But he flashed the consistent, chain moving, future New England Patriot that we all want him to be. Plus, as mentioned yesterday, the move from #82 to #2 is a nice touch.
Sitting On The Couch For 12 Hours Straight
Saturday was glorious. I woke up early, watched a little College Game Day, went for a run, got a coffee, and then did nothing but sit on the couch for 12 hours and watch football. I won’t lie to you, I got a little fatigued around 5:00-5:30 and almost took a nap, but instead powered through it because I’m Built Different™.
Wasn’t my best performance, but it felt good to get back out there and I’lll make some adjustments for this coming Saturday.
I don’t greatly care for Deion Sanders, but he deserved to soak in the glory on Saturday because the Buffs are a greatly improved team. I don’t know if the 45-42 win over TCU means they are a bowl team this season, but the one-year turnaround from what they were in 2022 to what they are now shouldn’t be scoffed at even if they go 4-8. They were a pathetically bad team last year, and at the very least now, they are a fun bad team. That’s major progress.
Theo Johnson Leading The Team In Receptions
If you read my Five Things I Know I Know heading into the 2023 season, you’d know that I said Theo Johnson would lead Penn State in receptions. As poetic as it could be, Johnson had exactly 0 receptions for 0 yards against West Virginia, which would mean over a 12-game season he’s currently projected to end with 0 receptions for 0 yards. That likely means he wouldn’t lead the team in receptions, though Math 22 did not cover this from what I recall.
On the plus side, it actually was a strong game for Johnson, despite the lack of targets. He’s really come a long way as a blocker, and as James Franklin pointed out during his press conference yesterday, his lack of touches was a result of West Virginia’s game plan. So yeah, he’ll for sure have like eight catches against Delaware and I’ll be sitting pretty with my prediction. Yeah. Definitely.
The Concern About The Illinois & Iowa Games
When you look at Penn State’s next five games leading into the duel with Ohio State, there are only two matchups where they won’t be at least 3-touchdown favorites: at Illinois and home against Iowa. While those matchups still have the potential to be tricky, the concern should have been alleviated this weekend given what the Illini and Hawkeyes did.
Let’s start with the Hawkeyes, who were breaking in new quarterback Cade McNamara and got off to a hot start, scoring two touchdowns in the first eight minutes of play. That’s right — a Brian Ferentz offense scored two touchdowns on back-to-back drives to open the game. Do the Hawkeyes have a modern offense?
No. Iowa’s ensuing drives were: turnover on downs, punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, touchdown, punt, punt, punt, end of game. In the Hawkeyes’ defense, Utah State isn’t a bad Mountain West team, but them managing 10 points the final 52 minutes is laugh out loud funny.
Meanwhile, the Illini struggled throughout the night with Toledo, squeaking out a 30-28 victory thanks to a field goal with 5 seconds remaining in the game. The elite Illinois defense led by Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph didn’t look so elite, giving up 416 total yards to the Rockets.
College plays are down across the board, with James Franklin noting that it seems to equate to about “five plays less” for each side of the ball. While I’m not Big Mad™ like other fans just yet — I can’t say I noticed much of a difference — I did enjoy Chip Kelly’s jab at ESPN.
Add UCLA’s Chip Kelly to those who don’t like the new clock rules. “Hope you guys are selling a lot of commercials.”pic.twitter.com/zX3PecCKit— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 3, 2023
I am here for any jokes made toward ESPN and/or FOX.