Penn State Football: Loss at Virginia Not All Bad for Nittany Lions

Barry Leonard@@barryleonardjrAnalyst IIISeptember 9, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions walkls off the field after losing 24-14 to the Ohio Bobcats at Beaver Stadium on September 1, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Penn State's 17-16 loss at Virginia in Week 2 is one that will be difficult to get over.

However, in spite of the loss, the Lions have reason to be optimistic about their performance against the Cavaliers.

Kicker Sam Ficken will be the focus of this loss for many fans and unfortunately for him, it's not unwarranted. Ficken missed four field goals in the game, including a 42-yard attempt as time expired. Ficken also had a fourth quarter extra point blocked that turned out to be a key play in the game.

Aside from the kicking game, the NIttany Lions can be proud of what they did on the field.

Starting quarterback Matt McGloin missed several minutes due to a right elbow injury. Starting running back Derek Day, who was replacing an injured Bill Belton, also missed time in the second half with a left arm injury.  

Despite the injuries, Penn State dominated the Cavaliers for the majority of the game. The Lions out-gained the Cavaliers in total yards 330-295. The critics, however, will probably point to the fact that if the offense had played better, some of Ficken's field goal attempts should have been turned into touchdowns.

McGloin played a solid, mistake-free game. He ended with 197 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Penn State defense forced four turnovers and controlled Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco for most of the game.

The defense looked great all day, except for the end of the game when it allowed Virginia to drive 86 yards and score what turned out to be the winning touchdown.

This loss will sting for a while. Head coach Bill O'Brien will no doubt have to look to make adjustments in the kicking game as the season goes on.

That being said, Penn State can be proud of the fact that despite all the adversity being faced, it hung in there and showed a lot of positives moving forward.