Game Day Observations: Purdue
It was something of a necessary chore, but Penn State predictably got the job done against Purdue this Saturday in an uninspiring 45-21 victory at Beaver Stadium.
Here are my observations from the stands:
- The one obvious bright spot was Zach Zwinak, who ran for this third three-touchdown game of the season. All things considered, that’s pretty impressive. For as many times as Bill O’Brien benches either Zwinak or his counterpart Bill Belton for fumbling, the duo has been pretty impressive this season, averaging five yards per carry.
- The Purdue Boilermaker came to town and would randomly make steam train sounds throughout the game from the Medlar Field parking lot. As pointed out by @davisshaver, there’s a hat on the front of it for each win in Purdue’s season. There is only one hat.
- The team entrance timing has just been horrendous this season. I mentioned in previous columns that I thought the new entrance format is much better, with an awesome video and Zombie Nation as the team runs out. Unfortunately, most times the video ends two or three minutes before the team is even out of the locker room, which just creates an awkward stalling period with terrible filler music.
- “What Does the Fox Say?” made yet another appearance after the Adrian Amos sack in the second quarter. Well executed.
- There isn’t a whole lot to learn after this game. Penn State’s defense is…well…Penn State’s defense. Purdue had scored a combined 21 points in its previous four games; Penn State allowed them 21 points in two quarters (granted, one was on special teams, but still). Sure, Jordan Lucas was able to jump some routes for an interception and a near pick, but he and safety Ryan Keiser also got burnt more times than they should have by Purdue’s hapless offense. Penn State allowed 264 total yards — about 5 more than Purdue has averaged this season, and that includes teams like Indiana State and Northern Illinois on the schedule. It was an overall solid performance, but there would have been no excuse for anything less.
- On the other hand, Hackenberg is proving to be a real leader and looking a bit more comfortable in his drops. Bill O’Brien — correctly, and perhaps surprisingly — decided to run the ball most of the game, but Hack still put up 212 yards on a 16-23 performance. Aside from the one interception, there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about here.
- Penn State legend Gregg Garrity’s 5’9″, 147 pound run-on son, Greg Jr., returned kicks for Penn State. To put that into perspective, Purdue has 14 players who weigh at least double of what Garrity does. That can’t be pleasant.
- Military Appreciation Day always bring some cool moments. Honoring State College High School graduate Sgt. Adam Hartswick before the game was particularly moving. The Nittany Lion standing on guns was pretty cool, too.
- Penn State’s draconian student section guards were diligent also also completely unnecessary. I mentioned in my post last Friday that I understood why Penn State wanted to close the ticket-passing loophole. But it was just comical to watch the Landshark rent-an-ushers turn away people from half-full sections because, why the hell not? I understand this move for big games that are likely to be crowded, but for Purdue?
- Speaking of half-full sections, attendance was actually better than I thought. The student section peaked at about 80 percent capacity. Announced attendance was 96,491, and although it was probably nowhere near that, it was comparable to most other games this season. Considering Penn State’s performance since the Michigan game, a 3/4 full stadium isn’t too bad for the STEP-era standards.
- Garry Gilliam got a little closer to this Purdue player than he probably would have liked. The two players’ facemasks got jammed together and the game had to be stopped momentarily to disconnect them. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.
That’s all for this week. See you next week for Nebraska, and if you’re a student, please consider staying the extra night to celebrate Senior Day! These are all men who believed in Penn State and stayed when they all could have left — the least you can do is stay an extra day to recognize that loyalty.