Typically that’s quite a fine win if you’re a Penn State fan. The only problem was the opposition was Youngstown State. And the Nittany Lions were actually losing to the Penguins 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
To make it worse, Penn State’s star player and Heisman hopeful Evan Royster was held to just 40 yards rushing all day. Now, this is a guy who is set to break the team’s all-time career rushing record, held by Curt Warner. 40 yards against a sub-par team – at home – on opening day – just won’t cut it. Especially when the trip to Tuscaloosa to face the defending national champs is just up ahead.
Grading Penn State’s overall performance: C+
The Lions just couldn’t get it done on the ground, and Joe Paterno hit the nail on head in his post-game conference when he mentioned they were lucky the passing game worked.
The defense – that’s Linebacker U’s typically stout defense – didn’t make too many big plays, either. No turnovers. Allowed 14 points and 264 yards of offense against, once again, Youngstown State.
That just plain will not get it done next week at Alabama. The defending national champions will tear open the Nittany Lions defense if they continue that kind of play. It’s almost a certainty the offense will be focused on the running game during this week of practice, and rightly so. Robert Bolden showed a great arm and quick thinking, but Royster needs to get it going too in order for the Lions to be successful on Saturday.
Grading Robert Bolden's debut performance: B+
One interception, that’s all that’s preventing this grade from an “A.” And it was an early interception that didn’t mean much.
Other than that, I was extremely impressed with the freshman’s performance. Bolden went 20/29 with 239 yards through the air. His near-70% completion percentage would have been even better were it not for just a few over-throws.
He demonstrated a powerful arm with hardly any effort, and his throws were on a line and accurate for the most part. Much different from Anthony Morelli’s misses, which were low and behind the receivers, not even giving them a chance to make a play and increasing the likelihood for an interception. In such a high-stress environment for a freshman, he performed well above expectations. A new breath of fresh air.
Too bad the Lions won’t be able to depend on his efforts next week. It will take much more than a solid effort from Bolden as well as some extra help from Royster and Stephfon Green to move the ball down the field and get some points on the board.
Penn State is 5-8 all-time versus the Crimson Tide. And that was without Nick Saban. Joe Paterno may still have a couple tricks up his sleeve but as of right now, it looks as though Lion’s fans have just five more days to call themselves undefeated.