Five Things We Learned: Indiana
Penn State escaped Bloomington, Indiana with a victory yesterday as they held off the Indiana Hoosiers 45-31. Penn State struggled through the first half and entered the second half tied at 14 apiece. However; fueled by a 24-point fourth quarter, Penn State went on to overcome injuries and a stout Indiana defense, and put them self in a good position to be at the top of the Big Ten East. Let’s look at the five things we learned yesterday with Penn State’s scrappy win.
1.The offensive line is fragile
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Nittany Lions were down two linemen as both starting tackles, Andrew Nelson and Brendon Mahon, were injured in prior contests. Paris Palmer has started the past three games in place of Nelson and has played well, while Brendon Mahon was replaced by freshman Chas Wright on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Indiana D-Line was not kind to the ailing O-Line and Paris Palmer went down early in the game for the Nittany Lions. As a result, sophomore guard Ryan Bates was pushed to left tackle and graduate senior Derek Dowrey came in at guard. The Hoosier front seven had a field day with the patchwork line getting pressure on Trace McSorley all game as well as keeping Saquon Barkely under 100 yards for the first time in four games. Penn State is going to have to go back to the drawing board if they want to keep their successful running game going the rest of the year.
2. Penn State can find other ways to win
When Indiana essentially shut down Saquon in the first half and the beginning of the second half, it looked as if Penn State was going to be on the wrong end of an upset, but Trace McSorley and company had other ideas. Penn State went to the air in the third and fourth quarter, including a flea flicker in the fourth quarter to DaeSean Hamilton that put Penn State back within striking distance and helped them secure the win. McSorley finished the game with 332 yards and two touchdowns, however, he did throw two picks because of the increased pass attempts. We saw a Penn State team that was able to face adversity and find a way to win when their main attack was shut down. Fortunately, Penn State did keep trying to pound the rock with Barkley as any good running team needs to do, even when that aspect gets shut down.
3.There is a chink in the defensive armor
Penn State has been playing tremendous football, especially on defense since Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell returned against Ohio State. However, Indiana found Penn State’s weakness yesterday through the air. The Nittany Lions allowed 292 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the pass attack yesterday. The same team that shut down Curtis Samuel and J.T. Barrett for the upset win was torn apart by junior college transfer Richard Lagow. Malik Golden was caught out of position on a deep ball from Lagow in the fourth quarter after John Reid did not press Nick Westbrook on the line of scrimmage, allowing Westbrook to be wide open for the score. Penn State needs to clean up the secondary because even a poor Rutgers team can hit wide open receivers in the end zone.
4.Trace McSorley is a tough quarterback
Unlike Christian Hackenberg, Trace McSorley has had the gift of a much-improved offensive line this season. He has been able to read through his progressions all season, and has not been hit very much throughout the year. Yesterday was Trace’s first real taste of grass and linebackers as he was hit early, hard, and often by the Indiana front seven. He stood strong several times and took big hits as he threw. Sometimes it resulted in great throws and admirations from the broadcasters. However, it was not always great as he airmailed a ball right into Indiana’s secondary in the first quarter. Overall, he kept his composure and had strokes of greatness, leading Penn State to a scrappy win against an even scrappier Hoosier time.
5.Penn State has a chance at the Big Ten championship
Penn State did their part by getting a win in what some pegged as a trap game, but they needed some teams to fall around them to stay in the hunt, and that’s what happened. The highlight of the day may have been the Pitt Panthers knocking off the second-ranked Clemson Tigers, but the game every Nittany Lions fan was watching was Michigan vs. Iowa. A team that Penn State throttled last week at home 41-14, gave the Wolverines fits and took a heartbreaker from them by a score of 14-13 on a last second field goal kicked by the Hawkeyes. It is up to the committee in the end to decide who goes where in the College Football Playoff ranking, but Penn State has a chance at the conference title if Michigan loses to Ohio State in the final week of the year. For the first time in a long time, there is hope in Happy Valley.
Travis Sutton is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.