Dotson Drives All Over Maryland

It was a record setting day for Jahan Dotson as he caught 11 passes for 242 yards. Penn State showcased it’s patented Big Play, No Substance offense and it’s stifling defense added a thrilling pick six to seal the deal en route to a 31-14 win over the Terrapins of Maryland.

Are you excited yet?

Were you excited while it was happening?

Were you ever excited about this game?

No need to answer. I know what you are thinking. I have ESPn.

In this roller coaster season of highs and lows, thrills of victories and agonies of defeat, this was a hardly a pleasurable experience, but at the same time, not painful.

Sports fans are never at a lack for an opinion. It was an ugly win. It was a fluke. A lucky break. Can you even believe that happened? It’s the officiating. The coach has to go. They need to bring in the back-up quarterback. Do we even have an offensive line coach?!?! We are such a Luke warm Fickle bunch!

Here’s a quick recap of some posts from a Facebook Penn State group:

“Correct me if I am wrong: We have not had a RB rush for 100 yards in a game this year.” Without looking it up, I can’t say for sure but I’m thinking he is right.

“This team is such a joke from top to bottom. They only get “up” for big games and the coaching staff fails them. Then against inferior opponents they struggle with every aspect of the game. Absolutely ridiculous.” Wow. Tell us how you really feel! And yet there is an unsettling kernel of truth in that assessment.

“Oh wait. Another over throw.” Apparently not a Team Clifford person.

“It is just me or does Franklin look uninterested?” Probably not interested in the game. Even I wasn’t that interested.

“That was just ugly!! 53 should not touch the field again.” A whole lot of activity arguing about the ethics of sideline behavior.

“Jahan Dotson for Heisman!” Hey at last a positive post!

So much unrest, so little bandwidth.

I’m neither hear to condemn these avid fans nor praise them. I come to bury Caeaser, not praise him! Being a fan is what it is, and it is different for every person. It’s actually part of what makes spectator sports so interesting: the spectators. And while that zeal can cross the line at times–I’m sure I’ve crossed it a few–that line shifts depending on your perspective.

For instance: what really happened on the sideline. Tagovailoa ran out of bounds into the Penn State sideline. He encountered a Penn State player who pushed him. He went down. He got up. Went back in. Play resumed. THAT is what happened.

Should it have been flagged? Probably. I have seen refs flag less egregious acts for 15 yards. I’ve also seen worse that went unpunished. I am actually surprised there wasn’t a flag.

But then there is a whole psychotherapy session which ensues. The coaching staff is lax for allowing that to happen. Unlike the scenario I described above in relation to that episode, this is heresay and supposition, unbased in fact. First, you must conclude that the act was malicious and worth a penalty. If not, then NO ONE is responsible for lax standards. For all we know, the coaches have reviewed that incident and punishment is being meted out. Or perhaps they reviewed it and think it isn’t worth their time.

Well, Joe Paterno would never have stood for that! Maybe. Maybe not. I do think Joe was a disciplinarian and he held the view that being a better person was more important than being a good football player. His doghouse was infamous. Again, we can all argue about that till the cows come home. There were times I thought Joe was too heavy handed in his punishments. Other times, I thought he was too lenient. Perspective people. It’s all perspective and what’s important to you.

Many of us miss the days of Joe Paterno football–not the Big Ten Era but the Joe of the 60’s through 90’s. We held our heads high and looked down at other programs that have lower graduation rates. We weren’t like the Switzers and the Sherrills. We orated on Success with Honor, as though there wasn’t a sinner among us. We remember Penn State players in suits and Miami players in fatigues. Good versus Bad.

And when something doesn’t fit that convenient image we have of our team/school/player/coach/mascot/etc. we lash out, as if that hatred will rectify the sin we perceived in the first place. Penn State fans of all fans should be especially sensitive to this situation. It was not all that long ago that a Sandusky stone brought down the fragile glass house image of a perfect Penn State. The world is not perfect. The coaches aren’t perfect. The players aren’t perfect. Neither are the referees, reviewers, sportscasters, bloggers and message board trolls. So go ahead. Throw that stone. Just don’t complain when it shatters something that you didn’t expect to break.

So what stones should I throw today?

Why did we mismanage 1:28 on the clock before the half, essentially squandering a scoring opportunity when the score was a mere 7-6 advantage? We cannot run the ball. We have not run the ball. All year. This game was no exception. Yet with three time outs and a chance to get into field goal range, we chose to . . . wait for it . . . RUN. THE. BALL. We ran the time off the clock so we couldn’t score, and we even took a time out to make sure we got taking a knee correct.

This game was in doubt well into the fourth quarter. Seriously two plays separated this from a 3 point win versus a 17 point victory. A one-play 86 yard strike by Jahan Dotson, and a pick six by Ji’Ayir Brown. Take just those two plays off the board and I would not have had any fingernails left by the time the clock ran out.

The all time series between these two teams has Penn State a prohibitive favorite, leading 41-3-1. The Terps have beat us only three times in the history of college football! And, quite frankly, one of those losses was last year! Losing to Maryland is not a habit you want to encourage!

Penn State actually dropped a spot on the AP poll to 23, a spot that they share on the coaches poll. Wake Forest dropped out of the top ten after losing to UNC. The Spartans dropped three slots on both polls after their first loss of the year–to Purdue. The three O’s (Oregon, Oklahoma and Ohio State) are still jockeying for position in that last who’s in spot.

Michigan looms on the horizon for Penn State. A white out game. More specifically a mostly white out with a helmet stripe of blue on the fifty yard line. A noon kickoff at Beaver Stadium. Will we be ready?????

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