Well Penn State starts off the season with an expected 1-0 record. Things started off slow against Youngstown State for the Nittany Lions, but really picked up in the second half. They ended up with a 44-14 win over the Penguins. Time to break it all down.
My Player of the Game: WR Brent Brackett- 8 REC, 98 YDS (12.4 avg), 2 TD
Game Scoring Summary
The game started off extremely slow, with the first points coming off a Colin Wagner 44 yard field goal to go up 3-0 with about three minutes left in the first quarter. On the Penguins next drive, Kurt Hess threw an 80 yard touchdown pass to Dominique Barnes.
Early in the second quarter Colin Wagner hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 7-6 Penguins. The Nittany Lions finally scored a touchdown from a 20 yard touchdown pass from Rob Bolden to Brent Brackett with just 1:20 left in the half. Penn State got the ball back and added another 48 yard field goal from Colin Wagner to make it 16-7 at the half.
Right off the bat, Chaz Powell returned the second half opening kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown to make it 23-7. Then with about nine minutes left, Brent Brackett would add another touchdown from a Rob Bolden pass to make it 30-7 Nittany Lions.
Stefon Green and Kevin Newsome would each add a rushing touchdown to make it 44-7. The Penguins would eventually get one more touchdown at the end of the game to make the final 44-14.
Player Breakdowns vs. Youngstown State
QB Rob Bolden - 20/29, 239 yards, 2 TD, INT
This was not a bad performance for an 18 year old in front of 107,000 fans. He looked very good passing the ball and showed he can scramble too. He did of course make some rookie mistakes, but what do you expect? He really showed he liked to throw to Brent Brackett, and those two seemed to click very well. The biggest test of his career will come next Saturday night when they take on Alabama.
HB Evan Royster - 11 carries, 40 yards, 4.6 YPC
Royster did not live up to expectations at all in this opener. He seemed to have a hard time finding holes, and the offensive line didn't help at all. This is going to need to be a huge focal point in practice this week if they want to even think about beating Alabama.
WR Brent Brackett - 8 REC, 98 yards, 2 TD
Brackett looked like the go-to guy all day on Saturday. Although he doesn't have great speed, he has great range and can get up and grab balls. Bolden really seems to like this kind of receiver so that he has a margin for error when throwing. He and Bolden were clicking all day, and could do some damage to Alabama if they work some more this week.
WR Derek Moye - 5 REC, 61 yards
Moye also looked very good and clicked with Bolden pretty well. Bolden didn't go to him as much as Brackett, but still seemed to also like throwing to Moye than some of the others like Graham Zug (who didn't get one reception). Look for Moye to also be a factor against Alabama.
WR Justin Brown - 3 REC, 35 yards
Brown seemed to have taken the place of Zug. Bolden was mainly looking for Brackett and Moye, but also worked Brown into the offense a bit. Brown seems to be the verticle guy, running deeper routes. He is still young and should develop into a pretty good receiver.
K Colin Wagner - 3/3 FG (44, 49, 48)
Wagner looked awesome in his season opener. He split the uprights every time, and didn't even get close to missing any of them. This could be very vital down the stretch when a big kick is needed.
Defense - 269 yards allowed (189 passing, 75 rushing)
The linebackers and defensive line looked fine, holding the Penguins to 75 yards rushing. One concern that has been here for the past couple years is the secondary. If teams really take advantage of that, things could get ugly for the Nittany Lions. The defense also didn't force one turnover. This is probably just rustiness, but that can't happen against Alabama.
Thoughts on the Game
Things didn't start out very well at all, and they had trouble getting a first down much less a touchdown. The biggest struggle was running the ball. Once the play calling changed to more passing, things picked up and the Nittany Lions finally took the lead and ran with it.
The defense wasn't terrible, especially the rush defense, but the corners and safeties could have done a bit better. Just one mistake (an 80 yard pass), was the difference between 189 passing yards allowed and 109 yards passing allowed.
A really nice thing to see was the kicker, Colin Wagner, hitting three field goals (44, 49, 48). This will be an important aspect later on in the season during clutch moments.
The biggest problem I saw was the running game like I mentioned earlier. The offensive line was the main problem and has been for many years. I think this will have to be worked on big time this week if Penn State wants a chance at an upset next Saturday night.
*Remember to check out my preview article this Friday
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