Penn State started the season Saturday, beating an overmatched Akron team, 31-7. The score was 31-0 at halftime. The games won’t be that easy in the Big Ten, but the Akron game did ease some concerns.
The offense showed that this team’s passing game can be lethal. Darryl Clark completed 29 of 40 passing attempts for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Twelve different receivers made receptions, but Derek Moye stood out the most. He had six receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown. At 6’5”, Moye is showing the value of having tall receivers. He made several receptions over the heads of the smaller defenders.
Chaz Powell and Graham Zug both scored a touchdown and went over 50 yards receiving. The trio did a nice job of getting open and they seem to be finding a rhythm with Darryl Clark. Hopefully, they will develop chemistry before the Iowa game on Sept. 26. So far, they seem to be progressing well.
There were times when the passing game failed to impress. Clark threw an interception and floated some other passes into danger, but, luckily, they were dropped by the defense. Zug dropped several passes. These mistakes weren’t much of a problem against Akron, but if they continue to make them it could lead to disaster in future games.
The offensive line appeared shaky at first but settled down as the game went along and began to give Clark plenty of time in the pocket. Like the receivers, the line will need to gel quickly, as three of the starters are new. Good play from the offensive line is a must for any football team. For the most part, they seemed to do a good job of run blocking. Penn State gained 136 yards and a touchdown in 30 rushing attempts.
The defense was dominant. Akron managed just 28 total yards. They struggled to even cross midfield and were unable to until the last minutes of the first half.
The pass rush was impressive throughout the game. Akron quarterback Chris Jacquemain was under constant pressure.
On the defensive line, Jack Crawford and Jared Odrick stood out the most. Odrick looks like he will be even better this year as a senior. Crawford, a sophomore, seems capable of replacing Aaron Maybin as the team’s standout defensive end. At 6’5” and 256 pounds, he is one of the most physically imposing players in college football. He also displayed quickness and athleticism. He has a great motor and never seems to give up on a play.
For the most part, the secondary was untested. Andrew Daily made an easy interception on a pass that was practically thrown right to him. The secondary did make one glaring mistake. A blown coverage led to Akron’s only touchdown. We may learn more about the secondary next week if Greg Paulus and Syracuse provide more of a test. Hopefully, the pass rush will make their jobs easy all year.
As expected, the 2009 football season began with a blowout against an inferior team. So far, the team looks good but no one will know how good they really are until they face some real competition.