Replacing Moye, Defensive Consistency Key to a Homecoming Victory for Penn State against Purdue

Story posted October 14, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Esse

With a 5-1 overall record, the 5th overall ranked defense in the nation, and four straight wins, the Penn State football team (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) is making strides toward a successful 2011 season. However, as all of those are deserving headlines, the story is still Joe Paterno’s decision making at the quarterback position going into this weekend’s homecoming game against Purdue (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten).

Paterno announced at his weekly press conference on Tuesday that he will still use both quarterbacks for the game this Saturday (noon on ComRadio). This may come as a surprise to some Penn State fans, mainly because redshirt junior quarterback Matt McGloin has significantly better numbers than sophomore Rob Bolden.

McGloin has led Penn State during most of its scoring drives this year, including the only touchdown drive in their 13-3 victory over Iowa last weekend. Bolden has four fewer touchdowns and almost 300 less passing yards than McGloin, on top of throwing four interceptions on the year.

The main question regarding the play of both quarterbacks is: how long it will take for Paterno to name a starter? McGloin has all of the statistical advantages over Bolden. Perhaps another consistent performance this weekend will give McGloin the nod.

It will be a tough task for either quarterback to get production in the passing game as they will be without star wide receiver Derek Moye for the next two games. Moye injured his left foot after slipping down the stairs in his apartment Tuesday night. The injury will not require surgery and he is expected back for the Lions’ next home game against Illinois on October 29th.

Galen Hall’s offense will now have to look for production from other members of his struggling offensive attack, primarily running back Silas Redd and wide receiver Justin Brown. Redd got back on track last weekend against Iowa with 142 rushing yards on 28 carries. The offense also received significant production from back up running back Curtis Dukes, who had a breakout game with 60 yards on nine carries.

Production from Justin Brown, who has been quiet in the past few games, will also help both McGloin and Bolden create opportunities against a Purdue defense that is ranked 29th in points allowed.

The Boilermaker defense has allowed at least 17 points in four of their five games this season, including 38 points to Notre Dame and 24 to Middle Tennessee.  Joe Holland and Will Lucas lead the Boilermakers, both with over 30 tackles a piece. Danny Hope and the Purdue coaching staff will need big performances from both of their defensive leaders if they want to stop the rushing attack of Redd and Dukes on Saturday.

Offensively for Purdue, junior quarterback Caleb TerBush has slowed down in passing yards since the first two games of the season where he had over 180 yards in each game. TerBush presents a dual-threat option for Purdue, although his carries have been limited in the past few games. 

Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden have split the carries for Purdue with a combined 7 touchdowns and over 500 yards. Both backs have been able to provide consistency for TerBush and have allowed him to settle in inside the pocket. It will be pivotal for Devon Still and the Penn State defense to limit the Purdue rushing attack if they plan to keep their number five ranking in points allowed.

The Nittany Lion defense held Iowa’s fast pace offense to three points last weekend and haven’t given up over 10 points since week two against Alabama. Penn State has been able to force nine interceptions this season, which has been a big reason why they have been able to slow down offensive threats like James Vandenberg of Iowa and Bernard Pierce of Temple.

Penn State’s defense faces a favorable matchup, as Purdue’s offense isn’t nearly as explosive as any offenses they have seen in this 2011 season. Simply, if the Lions can keep up their consistency and force more turnovers against Purdue, it will give McGloin and Bolden the chance to win their fifth straight game.

If Joe Paterno and Penn State want to get their third win of the season this weekend against Purdue, they will have to get offensive production from someone other than Derek Moye, as they will be without their star wide receiver for this weekend.  A win for Paterno’s team will provide significant momentum going into a tough last five games of the weekend, which will determine the fate of the 2011 campaign.

 

Mike Esse is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mje5164@psu.edu.