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The 4th And 5 Play-Call Wasn’t Horrible

It’s really easy to hate the fourth and five call that the Penn State coaching staff drew up, because it didn’t work. If you hate yourself, then watch this:

So, the run really didn’t work out. In fact, rushing the ball with Sanders didn’t really work all night, as the running back ran for 43 yards on 16 carries.

McSorley, on the other hand, had himself an incredible game on his way to 461 total yards. The senior rushed for 175 yards, which is easily the most in any game of his career. McSorley was having himself a night, so it’s reasonable to expect Rahne and Franklin to let the quarterback try to get the first down.

“They lined up and, the first time, they called a timeout,” McSorley explained. “We came out and tried to get them to jump a little bit. It was fourth and five; I know exactly what Coach Franklin saw, and I saw the same thing. The play was there to be made, we just didn’t make the play.”

McSorley explained further, saying that the Ohio State defense ran a “twist” or “stunt,” crossing their pass rushers on the play. Still, before the snap, McSorley said that he read the defense the same way as Franklin and thought that the offensive line would be able to open up space in the middle of the defense.

The side angle of the play doesn’t do the call any justice, but a view from McSorley’s perspective does. From this view, you can see that the middle of the defense was wide open. The stunt that the Buckeye defense ran seemed to confuse the Penn State offensive line, leading to a couple of missed blocks as you can clearly see below.

Two offensive linemen weren’t blocking anyone on the play, which is probably part of what McSorley was referring to when he said that they simply failed to make the play.

“We knew they were going to make their linebackers jump when we moved Miles, and they weren’t going to be set in position, and it was going to give us a chance to get a hole up the middle and crease them,” McSorley said.

The simple fact here is that Penn State fans would hail Franklin as a genius if this play had worked out. Everyone in the stadium expected McSorley to drop back to pass and Franklin probably expected Urban Meyer to expect the same. Instead, Ohio State stunted right into the run and effectively ended the game.

Franklin still deserves a lot of credit. The best player on the field — Trace McSorley — was recruited by Virginia Tech as a safety. This three-star recruit outplayed everyone else, all because Franklin saw something in McSorley that others didn’t. Without his magic, this game wouldn’t have been close.

And McSorley outplayed a lot of very talented players. Here are the average ratings for Penn State recruiting classes over the past four years, respectively: 91.70, 88.32, 88.08, 89.05.

Now, here are those numbers for Ohio State: 94.29, 94.59, 91.56, 90.31. This Ohio State team, on paper, is the most talented Buckeye team ever. Ohio State is simply more talented from top to bottom than Penn State, with the glaring exception of McSorley.

You can hate on the fourth and five call all you want, but it doesn’t mean Franklin hasn’t been an incredibly effective coach.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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