Five Takeaways From PSU-Eastern Michigan
It was close early, but Penn State managed to pull away against an over-matched Eastern Michigan for an eventual 34-6 victory. Here are five things to take away from the win as the Nittany Lions get ready to play Indiana next Saturday to open the Big Ten schedule.
1. The win is nice, but two major injuries to key defensive players could hurt Penn State going forward.
Michael Mauti suffered a torn ACL in the first half, and D’Anton Lynn got carted off the field in the second half on a stretcher. These two injuries not only detracted just from the victory, but from how well the Penn State defense played against Eastern Michigan.
“It’s obviously two of our better players, but that’s the way it goes,” Joe Paterno said after the game. “I feel sorry for the kids. They both worked awfully hard. It kinda takes a little bit off the win.”
Mauti was supposed to be the star of the Penn State linebacker corps this season, and had shown glimpses of reaching his full potential. D’Anton Lynn, meanwhile, is part of the much vaunted secondary. Penn State has players that can step into these position, but the combination of experience and leadership will be hard to replace.
2. Did Penn State finally find the answer for the kicking issues?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: The coaching staff finally had Anthony Fera kick a field goal, and almost miraculously Fera made it. Hold your horses though…
When asked about Fera, Paterno immediately responded by saying that Sam Ficken made a field goal as well, and that the kicking still needs to get better. Add to that that historically Paterno does not use one kicker in all three kicking roles (field goals, punts, kickoffs), and one could conclude that we may see a different player kicking field goals next week against Indiana. Still, going 2/2 sure beats 1/6, the combined record of Ficken and Evan Lewis heading into the game.
3. The quarterback situation.
It has been debated ad nauseum: Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin? It cannot be disputed that McGloin had a better game against Eastern Michigan. However, Bolden did not have a bad game, and he played much better in week two against Alabama.
Once again, the coaching staff was not ready to talk about the quarterback situation in the post-game press conference. Even McGloin and Bolden, who had previously stated that they did not like the two-quarterback system, seemed fine with the results from Saturday. If Paterno does not pick a quarterback in his press conference on Tuesday, expect the two-quarterback system to remain in place for a good portion of the season.
4. Results from Saturday should make Penn State fans feel better.
Temple 38, Maryland 7. Alabama 38, Arkansas 14.
All of a sudden, Penn State’s loss to Alabama and narrow victory over Temple don’t look so bad. It is nice to see that Alabama destroyed a quality Arkansas team, but it should comfort Penn State fans even more that Temple won big over Maryland. For all those pessimists out there–and I’m one of them–take heart in the results from Saturday. Even Indiana State is playing well. The Sycamores have won three in a row since playing the Nittany Lions, scoring more than 35 points in each victory.
5. Penn State has some good wide receivers.
It took a couple weeks, but it seems that the problems that the Penn State receivers had with dropped balls has stopped. Thirteen Nittany Lions had receptions against the Eagles, led by Derek Moye’s six catches. Moye also became just the sixth Penn State player to gain over 2,000 yards. Overall, the receivers were making big catches and gained 364 yards on Saturday. While Penn State likes to have a balanced attack, it is nice to know that receivers will catch balls when the Nittany Lions need to throw.