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Game Day Observations: UCF

This one still stings — it hurts to even write this post — but let’s get right into Penn State’s primetime matchup against the University of Central Florida Knights.

  • I’ll get this one out of the way: Our defense is atrocious. I’ve only ever witnessed Penn State defenses get handled like that against the likes of USC and Alabama. The yards-after-contact gained by UCF is a number I don’t want to see. Call it a byproduct of sanctions, but I’d rather risk players getting hurt at practice than watch this defense play like that again. UCF, Blake Bortles, and Storm Johnson lit up Penn State for 507 yards. It was one of those games that you just knew, even after an impressive offensive drive, any effort by Christian Hackenberg and Zach Zwinak would be negated on the next UCF possession. Hopefully we’ll be able to use this week and Kent State to get this unit back on track to some extent, but Michigan and Ohio State are not going to be pretty if Stephen Obeng-Agyapong is the only player who can make a play.
  • Almost as disheartening as the defense was the attendance. There were actually less people here this week for a top 25 caliber opponent at 6 p.m. (92,855) than there was last week for Eastern Michigan (92,863) at noon. Once again, the upper decks were almost completely empty. I expect that weak showing during afternoon games against D1-AA schools, not against high-caliber teams in primetime. I’ve been coming to night games at Beaver Stadium for many years and I’ve never witnessed anything like that. In its defense, the student section, for the most part, remained full. I just hope folks who won’t go to games anymore in protest of Joyner/the administration/the BoT/Erickson/etc/ realize they’re doing exactly what Mark Emmert did — hurting student-athletes who had nothing to do with the “scandal.”
  • The student section dynamics are also getting worse. Apparently clapping along to the Blue Band has become a slow clap with increasing tempo instead of a constant rhythm. Half the student section is two words ahead in the Alma Mater because people don’t know when to start singing with the band. It’s not a difficult thing to master. Look at the silks/cheerleaders/dance team to know when to clap. Go to Youtube and familiarize yourself with how the Blue Band plays the Alma Mater. Or, just have Dr. Bundy teach proper student section etiquette at Football Eve like he did when I was a freshman.
  • This goes with last point, but students need to stop cheering and shutup when Penn State is in the redzone, or on offense in general. The band does its normal “drive” music, but it should be known by everyone not to scream or chant when Penn State is in the huddle or lining up.
  • In-game music had some high points and some low points. Highlights include friend of the website Aaron Carter’s “Aaron’s Party” and about five seconds of “The Fox.” Lows included Darius Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel” (which should never be heard by anyone ever) and the Blue Band playing the Doobie Brothers at halftime.
  • Two shirts caught my eye in the student section right away. First, this man wearing a PSU Boombox Guy t-shirt unironically.


  • And then this whiteout hipster.


  • Sam Ficken is a beast. I never though I’d have more confidence in our kicker than our defense, but here we are. We can argue with O’Brien’s call against the onside kick late in the fourth quarter all day, but Ficken was mere inches from nailing UCF at their own 1. He just missed the 57-yarder too, but no one can blame him.
  • Halftime, despite the Doobie Brothers, was a pretty cool scene. The family of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who died chasing down the Boston Bombers, was on hand and honored along with other first responders.
  • The new drum major Chris Siergiej gets crazy air on his flips. He hasn’t come close to missing yet. For example:


  • Everyone  on Twitter/in the stands was blaming the refs for mismanaging the clock at the end of the game, but that’s just an ignorance of college football rules. There is plenty to complain about — no call as Christian Hackenberg was speared mid-slide and a phantom holding call on John Urschel just to name two — but clock runoff in the fourth quarter is not one of these things. In college football, the clock continues to run after a player goes out of bounds when the ball is set UNLESS it’s under the 2 minute mark. That’s exactly what happened here.
  • This is a game I would rather forget sooner than later. Onward to Kent State. 3:30 kickoffs are my favorite.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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