Game Day Observations: Indiana
These observation recaps tend to be a lot tougher to write after a loss. Add the fact that it was Indiana, and not only a loss but an ass kicking, and well, yeah, it was a pretty miserable, rainy day in Bloomington.
Here’s what I took away from the game and the ambiance:
- This was the first kickoff I’ve missed in more than four years. I’m considering law school (yes I know), which meant I needed to take the LSAT the morning of the game on Indiana’s campus (#culture). When I did finally get out and ran the 20 minutes to the stadium, I found out I didn’t miss much…
- Bloomington — or B-Town, as it is affectionately known — is your run-of-the-mill college town. The campus is nice, although most of the buildings are very old and apparently made from Indiana limestone, which is an unique look compared to most Big Ten schools. Downtown is not unlike our own, except much smaller even with similar enrollment numbers. I recommend Nick’s English House — it’s basically their Skellar with better beer.
- Memorial Stadium, on the other hand, had no atmosphere or personality whatsoever. It seats just fewer than 53,000 fans, but I would be surprised if more than 20,000 showed up. It was almost so quiet it was awkward, even when Penn State was on offense. In fact, I saw more students drinking in front yards running up to the game than I did inside the stadium. It felt like a minor league baseball game most of the time, with hokey promotions like “Kiss the Pig” and a kids section (see below), which just amounted to a bunch of kids under the age of 10 running around on a secondary field beating the crap out of each other. There were fireworks and cannon blasts for touchdowns. I guess it’s tough to keep folks entertained without a mascot…
- A portion of the Blue Band showed up to play for the several thousand Penn State fans who made the trip, which is always entertaining. Speaking of bands, the Indiana “Marching Hundred” became quite annoying. On Penn State’s offensive drives, the full band played well into the huddle and wouldn’t stop until the snap. The Blue Band always quiets down when the other team lines up on the ball, but Indiana’s played right through, sometimes even up until 5 seconds on the play clock. I’m not sure if there’s a rule that mandates when college marching bands need to stop playing (where are my Blue Band commenters?) but if there was, Indiana didn’t follow it.
- What is there to say about the actual game that hasn’t already been said? Christian Hackenberg set a school record for passing attempts with 55. Considering it was raining for most of the game and Indiana was previously ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing defense, it seems almost unfathomable to me that Bill O’Brien called the pass that much. Sure, our offensive line failed to really get a push at the beginning of the game, and that number is obviously skewed since Penn State was playing from behind, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me why we were even close to 55 passing attempts. I’ve yet to hear an adequate explanation for that one.
- Speaking of the rain, it probably actually helped Allen Robinson. Rain plus ARob is a dangerous combination for defenses, as he remained generally unfazed while Indiana’s secondary slid all over the field while Robinson showed up his moves.
- The public address announcer might have been the worst ever, between “Adrian Robinson,” “Stephen Oberjong,” and “Matt Zanettelio.”
- This one was tough to stomach. Even during the “dark years” from 2000-2004, I never saw a Penn State team give up like this one did in the fourth quarter. Looking at the final score, it’s hard to remember Penn State was only down 21-17 going into the fourth quarter. Allowing Indiana to score 21 points in less than four minutes is just an inexcusable statistic.
- Not to harp on the play calling, but I’m still dumbfounded. Even on the last drive when Penn State needed two yards for a first down, O’Brien called a QB sneak and sent Hackenberg right into the middle of the pile. Why risk getting our freshman quarterback injured in a meaningless drive when the game was already too far out of hand? It’s just very suspect.
- The defense wasn’t much better, although the statistics can be deceiving. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong is about the only player I’m confident can make an open field tackle. Penn State only allowed Indiana to convert 4 of 15 third downs and only allowed 23 first downs — four less than Penn State was able to convert.
- The only thing we can do is move on and hope that we don’t get embarrassed against Michigan. The betting line opened at Penn State +3, which seems awfully low to me, but maybe there’s something I’m not seeing. In any case, let’s go, be loud, and have a great Homecoming!