The first game is in the books. It is now time for the emotional roller coaster to settle down. Let’s all take a deep breath and remember that what happened on Saturday was only one game.
Now that we have learned from our first week’s mistakes, Adam from Black Shoe Diaries has got a fresh batch of questions. Be sure to head on over to BSD later this week for a “greatest hits” of sorts. In the meantime, check out what these new Ohio-haters are saying:
Follow the jump to read us doggs’ thoughts…
Question #1 We used to be concerned with the team starting slow out of the gate. On Saturday, there was plenty of energy in the first half. The same could not be said for the third quarter. What was the reason for the change?
The Underdogs: Hard to say. Did the players begin the game with a bit too much enthusiasm and burn themselves out? Were they not used to carrying more mass yet and their stamina hasn't kept up with the weight training? Or did the team simply deflate after a few bad breaks and the coaches not adapt as well as Ohio's adjustments adapted to PSU?
Rowlff Dogg: Saturday was an anomaly. Never has a team experienced a more difficult offseason than what the Penn State players endured over the past nine months. As extreme as their emotional high was, it was bound to wear off. It is easy to pinpoint the fluke interception-turned-touchdown as the catalyst, but it’s impossible to expect to ride emotion for an entire game. Perhaps the more concerning aspect was, why couldn’t they find a spark to reignite the passion in the second half?
J Schnauzer: Depth. You know how MAC teams generally keep it close until the 3rd quarter until their starters wear out and are replaced with players that don't have the skills to match up with Penn State players? In a fateful quirk, PSU found itself in the reverse position against a team from the Mid-America Conference. This will only be compounded as an additional 10 scholarship spots are removed in 2013. .
Question #2 What kind of flaws did Saturday's loss to Ohio expose in this Penn State team? Was there anything you were surprised to see?
The Underdogs: I should first note that I forgot to set the DVR so I haven't reviewed the game sober. Based on memory, there was nothing that shouldn't have been somewhat expected. I would have liked to see more of a push from both lines. Other than that, McGloin's inability to scare or even test Ohio deep led to Ohio smothering the short stuff, which we had a good amount of success with early in the game. Even while things were going well, I suspected McGloin was too quick on his check downs and didn't give adequate chance to let the first and deeper reads reveal themselves. I'm left to wonder if this was a bit of over-coaching, much like when the previous staff drilled into Stephfon Green to not bounce outside that he would never bounce outside even when that's where the daylight was. They were clearly concerned about McGloin playing too risky and in particularly in the second half we probably needed him to be.
Other than that, I was particularly dismayed by the defensive play calling that seemed to get frustrated with a lack of pressure on the QB, which was itself a product of the scheme which didn't seem too interested in covering the flats and zones where the blitz was coming from, leaving acres of space between the pass rush and the DBs. Tettleton simply recognized the blitz and threw directly at it as he should. New D-Co Ted Roof appeared to be in full-on Madden mode, blitzing wrecklessly when the better strategy was probably to keep everything in front of the LBs. Or at least play more aggressively with the DBs and force Tettleton, who didn't seem to have the strongest arm in the world despite his generally good decision making, to beat us deep. Just a bad mix of aggressive front 7 with passive back 4. It needed a less schizophrenic, more concerted mindset, one way or the other.
Oh, and Belton's breadloaf carrying style.
Rowlff Dogg: I think I speak for everybody when I say I was surprised to see Gerald Hodges returning punts/kicks. Here is how it must have gone down.
John Butler: “Here’s what we’re going to do on special teams. Play this guy, that guy, him, oh…and I’ve got Gerald Hodges returning punts and kicks.”
Bill O’Brien: [interrupts with game-show buzzer sound] eeehhhhh! I'm sorry, your time's run out! What do we have for the losers, judge? Well, for our assistants, it's a life time at exotic Lock Haven University! And, for Coach O’Brien, that's right, it's a comparison to past idiots like Jay Paterno! Yes, Johnny! After falsely putting a highly decorated linebacker in the ridiculous position of returner, Coach O’Brien will have a long and prosperous career coaching... junior varsity badminton at the Rocco Globbo School for Women! Thank you for playing "Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid!"
Butler storms out of room and walks home in the rain.
O’Brien follows him in his car. He gets out and pleads for Butler to listen to him.
BOB: “I’m gonna put Hodges in to return kicks and punts.”
J Schnauzer: I'm shocked that with the stabilizing presence of Larry Johnson, Sr. that the DL couldn't create any penetration in the backfield of Ohio. This was one of those areas that I thought could re-load from last year and possibly improve. I'm very concerned.
Question #3 With Mike London firmly entrenched at the helm, Virginia has become a team on the rise. What should we expect from London's team this weekend? What memories do you have from the 2001-2002 series with the Cavaliers?
The Underdogs: I honestly have no idea.
Rowlff Dogg: A blowout win over a I-AA opponent isn’t the easiest way to gauge a team’s ability. I expect to see a bunch of players that Penn State whiffed on the past few years of recruiting. I expect to be disappointed every time Mike Rocco does something good because of his Penn State ties.
Like just about everything related to ACC football, I have very little recollection of the 2001-02 Virginia series. I do remember saying, “blech, yet another repeat opponent” when Tim Curley announced the series.
J Schnauzer: The missed opportunity of having one of the greatest turnaround seasons in history. Forget the 2004 Iowa game, PSU football was at its lowest point* in late October 2001. The team was 0-4 and behind late against Northwestern. Upstart freshman Zack Mills guided this team to a 5-5 (nearly 6-4) record into Charlottesville. A win would have earned PSU its most unexpected bowl season ever. Sadly, a mis-timed pass by Mills kept this from happening. I also remember Virginia's breakout wide receiver Michael McGrew. One of the finest.
*football-related lowest point
Question #4 Prediction?
The Underdogs: 24-13 UVa
Rowlff Dogg: A hard-fought, character-defining 23-20 win for the Nittany Lions.
J Schnauzer: 38-31 Penn State. This will be the first time Evil Awful Penn State hits the road. More than anything I hope both sets of fans try to represent their respective schools in the best possible manner.