Game Day Observations: Indiana
Homecoming Week was capped off by a 29-7 win for Penn State at Beaver Stadium over the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers had just taken Ohio State to the brink of defeat the week before, and the Nittany Lions had just scraped by against Army. It was a great game, great environment, and great day. Here are some things that stood out to our Alex Robinson, David Abruzzese, and Doug Leeson.
- John Donovan opened up the playbook against the Hoosiers. This was unexpected, given the team’s hesitancy to throw the ball downfield on a weekly basis. Hackenberg was allowed to manage the game and work through issues, resulting in stellar numbers and a commanding performance. This was especially encouraging when you factor in Penn State’s next opponent, the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Keep in mind, however, that if Saquon Barkley returns to the lineup — which he’s expected to — one can assume that the offensive gameplan will revolve heavily around the freshman phenom. –DA
- John Reid is quietly piecing together a solid season. Though Bob Shoop prefers to platoon his defensive backs, blue-chipper John Reid is quietly making his case for a more permanent role. Reid has two interceptions in six games, to go along with 11 tackles and two passes defended. He’s shown a knack for thriving in zone coverage, but he’s displayed the necessary quickness for shutting down receivers in one-on-one situations. The affable teenager is showing signs of becoming Penn State’s newest star, and he has the stats to boot. Look for Reid to play an integral role against the Buckeyes. — DA
- Keegan Michael Key was a great Homecoming Grand Marshal. Throughout the weekend, I didn’t hear of one single person that had a bad interaction with Key. He was nice, willing to take photos with anyone that asked, and always had a smile on his face. His demeanor on the sidelines was great, too. He was energetic, passionate, screaming, and jumping around the entire game. At one point, it looked like he was playfully taunting a Hoosiers player that came close to the sideline. All in all, Penn State is lucky to have Key as a representative of the University, and he showed that this weekend. — AR
Weather was a huge factor on a great day. After three games in pouring rain in the last four weeks, there was finally sun shining in Happy Valley on Saturday, and it had an effect on the offense. James Franklin, Christian Hackenberg, Kyle Carter, and DaeSean Hamilton all mentioned after the game that the weather allowed the Nittany Lions to open up their passing offense.
“First and foremost, it just wasn’t raining!” Carter said. “The weather definitely dictates some of the play calls. It was a beautiful day outside.” — AR
- The Blue Band (aka the best part of gameday) rocked with its alumni. Maybe my favorite part of Homecoming is the Alumni Blue Band. I was covering the game in the press box with David, I asked him to go down and take pictures for a tweet so I could just sit back, enjoy the show, and get chills. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a part of that group, playing instruments on the field alongside other band members who may have graduated last year or more than 20 years ago. The camaraderie shone through in the performance, and it was a highlight. — DL
- Attendance has lacked, though I’m not sure why that is. Yesterday’s announced attendance was just over 97,000, which blows my mind. There used to be years when Beaver Stadium would never sink below 100,000 in any game, but that mark has only been cracked once this year (the Army game was announced at 107,000, but that was a straight-up lie). Everywhere in almost every sport, television is becoming more and more of a competitor to watching games in stadiums, but I’m not sure if that necessarily the case with Beaver Stadium. Yesterday was a beautiful noon game that opened up the Big Ten part of the schedule, and during media timeouts and in between quarters were no shortage of Homecoming festivities, most of which I’m sure were not televised. Watching cozy in home might have been a better move for some the rainy games this year, but yesterday not selling out comes as a surprise. — DL
- Saturday left Happy Valley with a deserved air of confidence. Everyone I’ve talked to who went to or watched the game absolutely loved it. On the field, John Donovan/Franklin/Hackenberg/whoever it really is now called a really nice game, and the offense finally showed off its talent. The defense allowed seven points, maintaining its dominance. Off the field, my friends in the student section got sunburn for only the second time this season. The student section rocked (I’ve re-watched it sing “Sweet Caroline” and the Alma Mater ten times each). My only regrets for the weekend: my man Joey Julius put his starting position in danger, and I never met Keegan-Michael Key. Still, it seemed like he had the best weekend ever, and he deserved it. — DL
— Onward State (@OnwardState) October 10, 2015