Say it Ain’t Snow!

The Nittany Lions flew to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the highly rated but certainly beatable Spartans in the midst of a driving snowstorm.

They lost by three lousy points, losing 20-17 and falling to 7-5 on the season. No rank for PS-you!

Literally hours after Franklin inked a ten-year $85 million dollar contract, Mel Tucker of Michigan State just laughed and inked his own ten year deal–for $95 million. So what do you get for an extra $10 mil? Looks to be about 3 points.

A $95 Million Look

In bowling, sometimes you throw a good shot, hit the pocket, but it doesn’t carry, leaving a ten pin, or a solid 8, or worse yet an inexplicable split. A guy I used to bowl with had this happen. Our team wasn’t doing well either at the time. As he walked back the approach, he shrugged and said, “season in a nutshell.”

Another heart wrenching loss in a game that could have/should have been won. SEASON IN A NUTSHELL.

Five losses and every single one of them could have been a win. I may be mistaken, but I think Penn State had a lead at some point in every single game. The biggest defeat was by 9 points. Two games were separated by a field goal. One by two points. And another by 4. The average in 5 losses was 4.2 points. Take out the Ohio State game, and that is 3 points per loss.

But, don’t forget the schedule we played. Six teams were ranked in the top 22 when we played them. Four of those losses are to teams in the current top 15 of the AP poll. According to TeamRankings.com, Penn State had the eighth toughest schedule in the country. And we were still a quarterback injury and and a handful of plays away from winning more games.

Am I happy? Hell no!

Am I disappointed? Words can’t even begin to describe my pain.

Jordan Stout, who won the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor 4 times this season, was just shy of 70% on kicking field goals this season. He missed two extra points this year. But his punting and kick offs were phenomenal. In case you are wondering, 70% on field goals is 80th in the NCAA. Perspective? Eight Big Ten teams have kickers ranked higher with a higher percentage: Ohio State (3), Michigan (8), Iowa (14), Purdue (43), Illinois (54), Wisconsin (67), Rutgers (71) and Indiana (77.) The missed field goal from inside 30 yards and the missed extra point could have tied or won this game for Penn State. Pinegar kicking the last extra point (and making it) is the adage equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has already left. And while the weather conditions were not ideal (even the MSU kicker missed an extra point as well,) these were not isolated misses unique to this game. This was part of the pattern. Strong leg on kickoffs, accuracy on field goals and PAT’s not so much. Hold my beer! He’s gonna attempt a kick! The coaches should have worked on this (maybe they did and failed) or used a more accurate kicker for PATs and short field goals while letting Stout kick it out of the end zone routinely on kick offs. And if you don’t have anyone else on the roster that can kick better than 70% (80th in the nation), WHY NOT???? Not acceptable for a team that aspires to be elite.

Am I being over critical of a kid that doesn’t deserve criticism? I love this kid. I will root for him as long as he plays. I just wish he could hit a few more field goals and not miss extra points. I’m sorry if a fan criticizing a player bothers you. This is what it is. If you choose to come to Penn State and have 108,000 fans cheering you on when you make a good play, well don’t expect them to turn a blind eye when you make a bad one. You are being “paid” for this–if nothing else you can get a quality education if you want it. And now you can make money off using your image. And you have an opportunity that not many athletes get–a chance to showcase your talent for the coveted money maker of all time: the NFL. Get over it. You don’t want to hear the truth–you can’t handle the truth!–then I’m sure there are THOUSANDS of other high school football players that would LOVE to take your place.

Penn State has not had a running back go for more than a hundred yards all season. In fact, I don’t think anyone rushed for more than 74 yards in one game. That was against Indiana. Criticizing? Or fact? Just state the facts, ma’am.

There was not one iota of improvement in the running game from game 1 to game 12. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result?

That my friends is COACHING.

The coach doesn’t fumble. He doesn’t miss the extra point or field goal. He doesn’t over throw a receiver or throw a pick six. He doesn’t miss a tackle.

But the coach is the one responsible for the putting the players on the field that do. And for calling plays that allow their strengths to match up with the opponent’s weaknesses. And good coaches adjust to adversity and overcome obstacles like fumbles or missed kicks.

The head coach is the captain of the ship. If he didn’t recruit a good offensive line, that is on his head.

If the quarterback is struggling, ill, or ineffective for whatever reason, it is the coach’s decision to continue playing him or not. Do we kick or go for it. Coaching. Do we kick or take a time out and ice our own kicker? Coaching. Do we run or pass? Coaching. Who put the ape in apricot? What do elite teams got that we ain’t got?

COACHING!

You can say that again.

And now we have locked in our head coach for TEN YEARS. Another decade. That’s like one year in Paterno years. But still? What were we thinking?

Are we just going to pay more for the same old mediocrity, or are we going to get more bang for our megamillion bucks? That remains to be seen.

I saw these young men play their hearts out. I didn’t see one game where these guys gave up this year. (and in all fairness–that is coaching to some extent as well.) Maybe Clifford shouldn’t have been playing the Illinois game so soon after his injury. He certainly didn’t look 100%. But he still tried and almost got it done. It’s just a shame that all that hard work and dreams will go down in the books as a 7-5 season with a December to not remember bowl game.

Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, what might have been.

BUT . . . on the bright side. We don’t have to store the Land Grant Trophy for an entire year!

Land Grant Shed

UPDATE! Since the typing of this post, I see that Jordan Stout was named the Big Ten Punter of the Year. Congratulations Jordan!

Also, Brent Pry has apparently accepted a head coaching position at Virginia Tech. Best wishes until we play them! So who will the 85 Million Dollar man anoint for that position? Shall we just assume for now that the defense will be “learning a new system” for 12 games next year? Oy and double oy!

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