The 2012 Penn State Football season(and Bill O'Brien era) has officially begun. Unfortunately for Penn State, the lack of depth on the roster finally caught up to them. Up 14-3 at the half, Ohio outscored Penn State 21-0 in the second half to win 24-14. Lets take a look at the highs and lows and see where Penn State excelled and where they need to improve.
Penn State Offense- Overall the team moved the ball rather efficiently, but a fumble and a missed opportunity on 4th down ended up costing Penn State points. I see an improvement in Matt McGloin as he looks more comfortable in the pocket and was able to find a rhythm connecting with his Wide Receivers on his passes. I would have liked to seen Bill O'Brien allow McGloin to stretch the field more, and have him throw more vertically than horizontal. Overall, McGloin played one of his better games, and I think he fits O'Brien's system really well. The running game was rather disappointing. I know that may be a little harsh for me to say, considering Bill Belton had to quickly adjust to being the starting running back after Silas Redd left. However, I think Belton is capable of playing better than what he did today, but I think with a little more experience under his belt, he will be a quality back for the team. The receiving game overall isn't too bad. I am very impressed with our Tight Ends (Carter, Gilliam, Lehman) and the receivers were able to make some catches, but I would like to see them run more streak patterns other than just slant patterns.
Penn State Defense- The defense started out strong, but fatigue would finally set in near the end of the 3rd quarter. I would like to see more rotations with the defense that way the players don't get tired so quickly. The turning point in the game was when Ohio Quaterback Tyler Tettleton threw a TD pass where Penn State Defensive Back Stephen Obeng-Agyapong tipped the ball off his hands and Ohio got a lucky deflection when the ball fell into the hands of WR Landon Smith and he scampered in the end zone for a TD. That play drained all of the energy out of Penn State not just physically, but mentally as well. What's worse was on the play before that, Tettleton desperately threw the ball and it went right into the hands of a Penn State defensive lineman, but he couldn't haul it in for the interception. Ohio took advantage of their good luck and were able to keep the Penn State Defense on the field for the majority of the second half and put the final nail in the coffin with a late 4th quarter touchdown.
Penn State Special Teams- The special teams muffed a punt and had a difficult time on kickoff returns and punts. One thing I'm still scratching my head over is why was Gerald Hodges returning kicks? No disrespect to Hodges, but if I was Bill O'Brien I would have the likes of Adrian Amos or Shawny Kersey return kicks with their speed. Penn State's kicker, Sam Ficken, wasn't tested (other than his PAT's) So I can't really make an opinion on that part of Penn State's game.
Overall, despite some of the miscues and missed opportunities, Penn State has nothing to be ashamed about, considering all that has happened over the course of the past 10 months. What we as a Penn State family need to realize is not everything is going to happen over night and that it's going to take the players time to adjust to the unfortunate situation they are in. Now more than ever the players will need our support and let them know that they aren't going into this battle alone. Because WE ARE......PENN STATE!!!!!!