View from the Cheap Seats: The Pitt Game
The Team Who Showed Up Early, That Defense, and Other Thoughts
Where to start? I guess with thanking my doctor, who will be operating on my shoulder the day before we play Michigan. Why am I thanking him? Plain and simple, I am taking some nice medicine to help with the pain I feel on a daily basis. That medicine allowed me to make it through this game.
In a game that was so hyped for the renewing of its long-standing rivalry, it seemed only one team showed up early on and it certainly wasn’t the Nittany Lions. I am not sure what was said to the team at halftime, but it certainly made an impact as the second half was a much different game.
From the cries to fire Coach Franklin to the grousing about how far this program has fallen, I found myself wondering which was causing me more pain – my shoulder, the performance of the Nittany Lion defense, or the outpouring of fans calling for the firing of the coach?
Is firing coaches is what a real fan calls a solution? I take issue with “fans” calling for coaches to be fired after the journey we've been through, but then I think about all the people who understand what's going on at Penn State. They understand that this the first year of having all our scholarships back. This is the first year for both coordinators and we have an exciting, yet very young quarterback making what was his second career start in a hostile environment. Add to that he was faced with an early deficit but sans his final toss into the end zone, he brought his team back. He played with great poise and he should have Penn State fans excited.
He's a good quarterback... we just don’t have an adequate offensive line that can protect him. This struggle the last two seasons can be attributed to the scholarship issues that Coach Franklin inherited, and it might continue this season if they can't work together as a unit.
What we need is a solution for our defense. The inability to stop the run is more concerning than any argument about whether James Franklin will or should remain the head coach. The defensive performance today, especially against the run, was embarrassing to say the least. Pitt’s offensive chewed up the defense with long drives (which were aided by poor tackling) and exposed a weakness that Penn State themselves knew about already. The lack of depth was known and that goes back to scholarships as well. Now, the tackling issue? That is certainly going to make for a long week in the defensive meetings however it is coach-able, thus correctable.
Considering how this game started and the first half played out (the defense allowed 279 yards in the entire game against Kent State; Pitt logged 231 yards in roughly the first 19 minutes of the game), it would have been easy to see this game get completely sideways on the Nittany Lions. As bad as it could have been, it wasn’t. They fought back, played as a team, grew, and while it didn’t end in our favor, it could prove to be the best thing to happen to this young team.
Up next is a shot at Temple. There is plenty of motivation surrounding this game as well, not just on the recruiting landscape, but also a revenge game after the ten-sack game last year in the opener. But I don’t want to think of Temple right now. My heart hurts for those boys who played their guts out on the grass of Heinz Field. I need more medicine.
Photo from facebook.com/PSUFball