Stay Positive, Penn State Fans!
When it comes to Penn State football this season, all I hear is negativity. I asked my roommate what word popped into his head when he thought about the Penn State football team this year. His response: “annoying”.
Yes, I know, the offense, especially in the red zone, is struggling, and our best wide receiver just broke his foot after falling at his apartment last week. Again, you don’t need to remind me that the team barely made it past lowly Indiana and less-than-impressive Purdue. We all know that, but before you find something else to be negative about, take a look at the Big Ten standings. Penn State is 6-1, 3-0 in conference play, and 21st in the BCS polls. There are a hundred or so teams that would be thrilled to trade places with us right now.
Before the season, if you told me that, heading into at Week 8, the Nittany Lions would be 6-1, despite losing their best linebacker and still not having a starting quarterback, I’d ask you what sort of drugs you were taking.
But the Lions are undefeated in conference play and whether you’re willing to believe it or not, have a legitimate chance at playing in the first ever Big Ten Championship game.
It all starts up front. Penn State’s much-maligned offensive line has been solid in recent weeks, opening up holes left and right for stud running back Silas Redd and backup Curtis Dukes. The running game has been impressive, and over the past few games, dominant. The Lions racked up 231 yards on the ground en route to a 13-3 win over visiting Iowa, and Redd ran for 131 yards last week against Purdue with relative ease.
The defense has been carrying the squad, and forcing handfuls of turnovers–as many in 7 games this year as they did during the entire 2010 season. Fifth-year senior Nate Stupar has filled in admirably for Michael Mauti, who tore the ACL in his left knee. Stupar, a State College High grad, registered 7 tackles and 2 interceptions against Purdue.
This is a veteran defense, and each man knows his role. Devon Still–who’s receiving national accolades for his awesome play–and Jordan Hill dominate the trenches. Jack Crawford and Sean Stanley provide pressure off the edges. D’Anton Lynn, Chaz Powell and Stephon Morris lock down the wide receivers. Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino secure the middle of the field. Tom Bradley has done a great job with the unit, which ranks towards the top of the NCAA in most statistical categories.
For the special teams, the return of Anthony Fera has been immense. Since being given the reins to every kicking duty, Fera has twice been named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week and has drastically aided in the battle for field position.
Despite all of these reasons to be positive, I seem to be surrounded by a collective pessimism among the student body.
Maybe it’s the continuing quarterback carousel that gets under the skin of the fan base. This is certainly understandable. The offense has no rhythm when the quarterbacks are rotating in and out. Personally, I don’t think it matters who plays quarterback. Both Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden are mediocre, (get those grades up, Paul Jones) but we need one guy to lead the offense, and one guy to manage the game without giving the ball away.
The next two matchups are favorable ones for Penn State. Northwestern is struggling, and Illinois showed their true colors last weekend, losing to Ohio State at home–a game in which the Buckeyes completed all of one pass, as a team.
So what I’m saying is this: do me a favor, and stay positive Penn State fans! There’s a lot to love about this team, and their best football game has yet to be played.