Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What We Learned From Coastal Carolina

First, wasn't it great to see Penn State back on the football field? My God, the eight months between bowl games and the start of the season seems to get longer with every passing year. Regardless, we have finally gotten a look at what Penn State might look like this year. I'm going to try to look at what the offense did and what the defense did in the 66 to 10 route of the Chanticleers.

One also must consider that Coastal Carolina simply is not in Penn State's league. The Chanticleers aren't really a fair measuring stick for the Lions. We will certainly know after the Oregon St. game.

The offense looked damn near unstoppable for a lot of the day. Lets start with the running game and then take a gander at the passing attack.

Royster looked great running the ball. Too be fair, pretty much whoever carried the ball for the
Lions looked great. PSU wracked up 334 yds on the ground spread out over 8 ball carriers and 43 carries (7.8 yds/carry). The running game also had yet to unveil any of the QB runs. It seems as though the offense, while terribly effective, was also fairly basic. I don't think we've seen all the Spread HD offense has to offer yet. What opened up these running lanes were some great blocking from the offensive line. However, what really stood out to me, was how well the receivers were blocking down field. This is exactly the kind of effort you need to propel a team to the next level.

On another side note, who the fuck is Chaz Powell and where have the staff been hiding him? He is listed as a backup Free Safety but certainly showed a flair for offense as he had two rushes: one for five yards and the second a 55 yard scamper for a TD! I mean, WTF!?!?! I completely missed this, but here is a recruiting video which shows that this kid might be special.

As Clark started to run the offense I was blown away at how polished he looked. I believe he completed his first four passes and ultimately went 11/14 for 146 and a TD. What startled me all the more was how Devlin looked just as good! Both Quarterbacks threw the ball effectively and efficiently. Clark completed 78.5% of his passes and Devlin 62.5%. This is the efficiency and accuracy that PSU has been missing over the last few years. Again, this wasn't against comparable talent, however, it is certainly a good sign. However, one must also consider that Morelli looked good in his opening games completing 61% of his passes against Fla. Int. in 2007 and 50% of his passes against Akron in 2006. Ammo also threw 3 TDs in each of those games. So, both QBs looked good but lets not go too overboard.

All the receivers looked good. I was particularly pleased to learn that Derrick Williams has re-learned how to break a goddamned tackle! Hallelujah!

(consider the possibility of having to rescind all prior criticism of Jay if the Spread HD actually works out. I mean, could it actually work out?)

The defense gave me some concern. It seemed as though the linebackers were far less active than they have been in years prior. This surprised me, I thought that the talented defensive line would leave the linebackers free to make some big plays. I don't know if they couldn't get off their blocks or what but it seemed as though the play at LB needs to improve. This fact shows up in the defensive statistics, no LB broke 10 tackles on the game. Sales had seven, Bowman had six, Hull hardly did anything registering only 2 tackles.

People have speculated that Colasanti would unseat Hull as the starting MLB before the beginning of Big Ten play. This prediction certainly seems possible as Colasanti registered 2 tackles as well. If Colasanti improves between his first and second game, and he should show substantial improvement, he will be the starting MLB come September 27th.

The big surprise, for me, was Stupar logging 5 tackles and having one of the better games among the linebackers. He is looking to push Sales and Gbadyu for more PT at the OLB positions.

The Defensive line looked great. All three of Penn State's sacks were logged by the defensive line. The big boys up front consistently got pressure on the QB and penetration on almost every play.

The Secondary looked.....ok. The one big play which the Lions gave up came at the beginning of the second quarter. Trent Usher (WR) drifted into a vacancy the size of Rhode Island in the Penn State backfield. He was so wide open you had to know instantly that somebody completely blew an assignment. It was bothering me so I took a look at the video, ESPN has a good one. All three LBs are sent on a blitz which makes 2 of the weak-side WRs the responsibility of Scirrotto and Rubin. You can see Rubin rush far to the weak side to pick up the same WR which Scirrotto clearly has leaving Usher all alone in the middle of the field. This was by far the biggest mental mistake of the day. I know Rubin is trying his best but he will need to improve his instincts to shore up the safety position. Right now the Lions are missing Sukay and his injured foot.


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