The Bill O'Brien era at Penn State started with a loss on Saturday. The Nittany Lions fell 24-14 to the Ohio Bobcats. Despite the loss, there were positives that the Lions can take away from the game. Of course, there are negatives that have to be addressed as well.
All was seeming to go as planned when the Lions jumped out to a 14-3 at halftime. The defense was controlling the game by shutting down the fast-paced Ohio offense. Matt McGloin looked like a totally different quarterback from last season and had the offense rolling.
As good as things were for PSU in the first half, they were just as bad in the second half. The Lions were outscored 21-0 in the half and were unable to establish any offense. The defense wore down and was unable to stop Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
This list looks at both the good and bad from Week 1. Starting with the good news first of course.
If we know anything about Bill O'Brien's tenure with the New England Patriots, it's that he loved to use big tight ends in the passing game. It was obvious on Saturday that he has brought that style to Penn State. Tight end Kyle Carter played a large role in the Penn State passing attack.
Carter is a big, athletic tight end who quickly became a frequent target for quarterback Matt McGloin. He also showed his ability to make moves and run after the catch.
Carter finished the game with six catches for 74 yards.
If he continues to grow from week to week, O'Brien could feel like he is back in New England.
It was clear, fairly early on Saturday that Allen Robinson would be a favorite target of Matt McGloin. Robinson was used for both short dump-offs and passes down the field.
Robinson adds another dimension to the NIttany Lions' passing attack. He is a speedster and was used on several screens against Ohio. He finished as Penn State's leading receiver in Week 1 with nine catches for 97 yards.
If Robinson can continue to use his speed to make plays, he could be in line for a big year. A wide receiver who can turn a two-yard screen pass into a big play is a quarterback's best friend.
The defense did not have too many bright spots on Saturday, especially in the second half. However, linebacker Michael Mauti did all that he could to help the Lions try to pull out a victory.
Mauti stepped up as a leader during the offseason. He proved on Saturday that he is the leader of the defense. He collected a team-high 12 tackles against the Bobcats. Mauti was flying all over the field making plays.
The fact that Mauti had an outstanding game is not a surprise. Heading into the season he was expected to be one of the team's leaders in tackles. Penn State fans must be hoping that Mauti's energy can spread to the other PSU defenders.
Without a doubt, the secondary stood out as a weakness for this Penn State team.
The cornerbacks and safeties seemed to wear down in the second half as Ohio quarterback Tyler Tetttleton was able to complete pass after pass to move his team down the field.
The Penn State secondary gave up four pass plays of over 25 yards and was picked apart by Tettleton the entire game. This group is inexperienced, and fans had to expect a learning curve. Bill O'Brien will need the secondary to improve quickly if the Lions plan on having any success this year.
The departure of Justin Brown not only hurt the wide receiver position, but it also left a gaping hole in the return game. Brown was an experienced kick returner who was expected to do the same this year.
Penn State could have used him on Saturday.
In an odd move, Gerald Hodges (yes, the linebacker) was on the field for the first kickoff. He made a poor decision and tried to take the opening kickoff from deep in the end zone. Hodges only made it to the 12 yard-line on that attempt.
Hodges was also on the field for punt return situations. He bobbled a punt deep in Penn State territory that led to an Ohio field goal.
The Lions were unable to get anything going in the return game. A short field was not something they saw much of on Saturday. Matt McGloin and the offense were constantly pinned deep in their own territory.
With a struggling offense, it's important that the Lions fix their return problems. A shorter field should make it easier for the team to put up points.
Star running back Silas Redd, who transferred to USC last month, was clearly missed in Week 1.
Penn State struggled to get anything going on the ground. Starting running back Bill Belton had a few decent runs, but that was it. Belton finished the game with only 53 yards on 13 carries. Senior Derek Day added 36 yards on eight carries.
Belton started strong on the first drive of the game, running the ball with relative ease. However, his costly fumble deep in Ohio territory ended the promising drive.
The running game never got on track in the second half. That allowed the Bobcats to focus on shutting down the Penn State passing attack.
Moving forward, a strong running game will take pressure off of Matt McGloin and will help Penn State control the pace of the game. The Lions will look to improve on the ground heading into Week 2.