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September 25, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
Between the Lions (since 2005): Penn State 22, Temple 13
Royster rumbles; D awakens;
Nits finally dispatch pesky Owls
First quarter: Temple 13, PSU 6
> Penn State appears to catch Temple guessing on a run blitz on the first play from scrimmage and Royster goes for 50+. Good job of downfield blocking by the PSU receivers.
> After Royster fumble, Big Ten Network graphic says Penn State has a “1,67 turnover margin.” Um, uh, OK, we don’t even know where to start asking about what that means.
> After looking scared on first series, Owls look confident after fumble and make it hurt.
> Bolden with a couple of nice throws on the ensuing drive (and a nice run on an option!), but he misfires twice in the red zone (including a play where he hit a Temple cheerleader – ahem -- between the numbers) and Mr. Automatic makes another appearance.
> Penn State defense pushed around on next Temple drive. Despite hollow praise from BTN crew, linebackers nowhere to be seen. Bernard Pierce runs right through Sean Stanley and Michael Mauti on scoring dash.
> Eric Collins asks “who would have thought this possible?” Hmmm, we wonder, who? Who? Oh, that’s right, us.
Second quarter: Temple 13, PSU 9
> From what we observed the last two seasons, we think Temple has been able to compete athletically with Penn State for a while now, but they’ve failed miserably competing on the mental end of the game. Today, the Owls look confident.
> Even though the ball remained in play, wasn’t the Temple player who downed it laying in the end zone? Isn’t that a touchback?
> Sideline reporter Charissa Thompson forgets the rules of formulating sentences and asks Adam Taliaferro, “How has your life changed now ten years ago from that one play?”
> Bolden and Garry Gilliam (Penn State DOES have a tight end on the field!) hook up on a nice third-down play to salvage a field goal from a near disaster. Mr. Automatic obliges.
> What an imaginative mind Temple OC Matt Rhule has. The Owls showed a great variety of screens, draws, misdirections and reverses. Rhule can have the Steelers job right now.
> On the flip side, two horrible play calls by PSU on third and fourth downs before the half, sending the slender Bolden into the fray twice, failing to give Royster a chance on either play or showing some guts with a play fake.
Third quarter: PSU 15, Temple 13
> Penn State’s defense looks better coming out of the half.
> Rob Bolden, on the other hand, is shaky. However, when you’ve got a freshman quarterback and he seems to be in 3rd-and-long on every drive, part of the blame goes to the playcalling. Under such circumstances, first-down playcalling should be 50-50 pass-run.
> Mauti with the first splash play of his Penn State career – and we’d really love to see a better replay of whether that was a fumble or incomplete pass.
> Sure, Davon Smith’s return was called back, but it’s still fun to see a human being moving like that.
> Hey, 3rd-and-long. Again. Overthrow. Again. Mr. Automatic. Again.
> Justice prevails as replay overturns bogus pass interference call on Drew Astorino.
> Nate Stupar with another LB splash play. PSU offensive coaches with another horrible first-down play call. Can you guess how this ends? Mr. Automatic – again -- and the Lions lead.
> Pete Massaro and Mauti end quarter with another tackle for loss. PSU offense needs to tap into defense’s aggressive approach.
Fourth quarter: PSU 22, Temple 13
> Two first-down passes (including a play-action rollout that would work all day) raise our hopes, but the drive stalls and it’s Mr. Auto – doh! Noonan.
> Bolden with biggest clutch play of his young career, converting a 3rd-and-6 out of his own end zone on a – ahem – rollout.
> Justin Brown with a nice adjustment on another third-down conversion.
> Royster’s back and his absence was apparently not related to an injury, although we’ll never know if we’re waiting for a report from Charissa Thompson.
> Michael Zordich, still listed as a linebacker on the roster on Penn State’s web page, bulls into the end zone like one.
> What in the world happened to Nate Stupar! “Shades of Shane Conlan,” Collins offers. Hey, let’s not get carried away there.
> And … the much-maligned Nick Sukay puts a cap on it.
> As we look forward to Iowa and the most-aggressive defensive front seven in college football, we’re wondering if maybe Penn State didn’t want to show a lot of its screens, draws and misdirection plays for the Hawkeyes next week.
The final word:
> Whether Penn State falls in the polls this week is of little import. This is a young, young team that could swing anywhere from 6-6 to 9-3 depending on how they develop in some key areas. If, we repeat, IF the Lions’ end up on the upper end of that scale, remember whatever was said or done with the defense at halftime of this game as the turning point.