Tag Archives: Wildcats

It’s Just a Flesh Wound!

fleshwound

“I can still play!”        “You’ve got no arms!”         “It’s just a flesh wound!”

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The Pennsyltucky Bowl

Or, as some people call it, the Citrus Bowl.

If the Rose Bowl is the Grandaddy of them all, the Citrus Bowl is the second cousin once-removed of them all.

Pennsyltucky is a portmanteau.  Herein I will further elucidate this subject for your perusal, because quite frankly, unless you are a Kentucky Wildcat, the game itself is not worthy of discussion.

pennsyltucky1

A portmanteau is a not only a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts, but is also a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

My personal favorite portmanteau, at this point in my life, is this:

masturdating

I have been found matsurdating in public quite a bit.  But I digress.

Where the Snell was I?

Citrus Bowl.  Pennsyltucky Bowl . . .

Pennsyltucky Plate

Pennsyltucky . . . the term is used to describe all of Pennsylvania outside of the metropolitan regions. The word is a portmanteau constructed from “Pennsylvania” and “Kentucky”, implying a similarity between the two states’ mostly rural sections, a connection that exists in fact after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky after the Whiskey Rebellion. It can be used in either a pejorative or an affectionate sense.

pennsyltuckyWVA

I was rooting for Penn State to come back, not just because I am a freakish Penn State fan whose whole outlook on life is affected by the mere outcome of a game, but just so I could answer all those Snell Yeah signs . . .

Snell yeah

With a resounding Snell NO!

SnellNo

Alas, we lost and now it’s just a wasted dream in the sea of college football commentary.

What the Snell happened?

We were 6 and a half point favorites.  We had McSorley in his final game.  We were arguably a couple of late fourth quarter collapses away from a better bowl game against a better opponent.

But we couldn’t even handle this one.

In the hours and day after this debacle, I have seen the words near-comeback and gutsy competitor bandied around like ping pong balls in a lottery drawing.

Everything that has plagued this team in the James Franklin Era replayed itself in 60 minutes of regulation football.

Special teams problems.  Questionable coaching decisions.  Poor clock management.  But the biggest one of all:  MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.

Missed opportunities.  So close.  It’s reminiscent of the Franklin post-game speech about being great, but not quite elite.

McSorley, this team–good, but just not quite great.

At the end of the day, at the end of the season, this team is 9-4.  That’s good if you are Northwestern.  That’s great if you are Akron.  You’re on top of the world if you root for Buffalo.

But here at Penn State, that bar was set higher than that.  We can argue about the pros and cons of that till we’re blue and white in the face, but that’s the fact jack.

A young Joe Paterno, with a school not historically considered a powerhouse in football, began a remarkable career.  With a combination of recruiting and coaching he built an Empire, while still maintaining academic excellence.  The peak of said Empire was in the 1980’s when he recruited and coached his way to TWO National Championships.  As he aged, he did less hands on recruiting, and probably less hands on coaching.  And it showed.  In the 2000’s his great teams–2002, 2005, 2008–came close to the glory of the 80’s, but fell short.  Sometimes by a mere two seconds.

Missed opportunities.

Penn State had more total yards (407-297), and only 15 fewer rushing yards than Kentucky.  We had more first downs, although our third down conversion percentage was poor.  We also had two turn-overs, and quite frankly, the botched fake punt was as good as a turn-over.  Had it worked–brilliant.  As it is, what the Snell was he thinking?

Coach Franklin didn’t miss two field goals.  He didn’t let Kentucky run a punt back for a touchdown.  He didn’t cause a pass to sail high over an open receiver.  Maybe he should have gone for it on fourth in the fourth quarter.  Maybe not.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Trust me.  I’m an eye doctor.  If he’d have chosen to go for it and Penn State didn’t make it then people would be yelling we should have kicked the field goal.  Or, we should have used a different play.

The very fact that game came down to that critical play is because of all the other decisions along the way.

I’m not in a place in my personal life right now that I would choose to be in.  Yet, I am where I am because of the choices I made.

As disheartening as this loss was, the future is still hopeful.  For the team.  Not me.  Recruiting is excellent.  Sometimes talent can overcome bad coaching.

But for now, there is only reflection as we wait for the next season to dawn.

PensyltuckyGrill

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Wildcats Lose as Lions Cruise

There are a lot of undercurrents swirling below the calm level of a 31-7 victory.  Perhaps saying the Lions cruised to win number six (bowl eligible baby!) is a bit of an overstatement.  Yet, despite missing another field goal, having a punt return for touchdown called back for yet another holding call on a punt, and having our Heisman candidate running back post minus yardage in the first half, the scoreboard still showed a dominant victory over an opponent that has recently given us Fitz fits.

Thank you defense!

NWfans

You can’t stop Saquon forever.  Just pull your shirt over your face and chill out.  Breath deeply.  What’s that smell?  It’s you.

The Wildcats scored with less than two minutes to go, ruining what could have been a third shutout on the year.  Penn State entered the day ranked 3rd in the country in scoring defense.  Thanks to an Epic Sooner Fail that would have made Bob Stoops proud, the team will now be ranked #3 in the polls.

And despite averaging -0.1 yard per carry in the first half, Saquon did finish the day with 75 yards and another highlight reel 53-yard run for a touchdown.

When did scoring 31 points become a defensive game?  Because we didn’t score fifty, the offense sucked????

This teams finds a way to win.  Missed field goal–no problem.  Can’t run?  McSorley completes 15 straight passes (a school record by the way.)  Last guy to complete 14 passes in a row?  Kerry Collins.  Undefeated in 1994.  Could history be repeating itself?

This team is fun to watch.

How would you like to be a Pitt fan right now?  Saturday comes and you have to decide whether to watch them lose to Syracuse or go see the My Little Pony movie.  The half dozen fans that chose to watch Pitt probably regret not going to the movies now.

Oklahoma may have a good offensive line but Sooner fans aren’t happy.  Michigan is able to kick field goals, but their fans aren’t happy.

Could our relatively short list of problems cost us a game in the future?  Maybe.  Could our plethora of playmakers on both sides of the ball overcome these problems?  I think so.

UNABASHED RANT:

Now, let me take a moment to complain about a rule.  Holding on a punt that goes out of bounds?  What?  Why is pass interference waved off for an “uncatchable ball” but holding (or block in the back) on a return isn’t waved off when the BALL ISN’T ACTUALLY RETURNED and worse yet, sails way out of bounds AND CANNOT BE RETURNED.  Now I’m not saying you still can’t have unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike penalties, or cheap shots called . . . but how does a hold on an unreturnable ball make any difference?  Just complaining.  I will now return you to our regularly scheduled drivel.

BY THE NUMBERS:

The stat that I think stood out the most was 8 penalties for Northwestern.  And more surprising . . .TWO players ejected for targeting.  Not what you would expect from a Pat Fitzgerald team.

Another great stat:  zero turn overs for PSU.  Two interceptions and a fumble for the boys in purple.  And this is all defensive–the defense created those turn-overs

INTANGIBLES:

This is James Franklin’s first win over Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern in three tries, once as a Vanderbilt coach.

Penn State leads the all time series between these schools, 14-5.

Saquon’s Heisman chances weren’t hurt much by the poor first half showing, with Penn State winning easily, a highlight reel touchdown run, and his next best competition failing to secure a win for Oklahoma.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

I’m sorry.  Maybe Michigan State beating little brother in Ann Arbor will hurt us down the road, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Harbaugh lose.  Any Harbaugh, but especially the one in Ann Arbor.  And does the 14-10 loss and subsequent drop in the polls by the wolverines really hurt our chances if we win out?  Michigan State is now ranked, so that helps our overall schedule strength.

If we don’t win out, conference losses by Michigan and Ohio State will be critical in winning the Big Ten East.  I may be wrong, but I cannot imagine a scenario where an undefeated Penn State team (and Big Ten Champion by extension) will be excluded from the playoffs.

Indiana crushed Charleston Southern 27-0.  Someone, somewhere, cared.

The Badgers beat da Huskers 38-17.

Purdue went all Carl Spackler over the Gophers 31-17.

Iowa defeated the Illini 45-16.

The Buckeyes made Turtle soup out of the Terrapins, 62-14.

Rutgers was off and nobody noticed.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Next week the Penn State Nittany Lions have the day off.

Then, October 21st . . . WHITEOUT at Beaver Stadium.  7:30 Kick-off on ABC.

The Wolverines are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Spartans, and have a road game at Indiana before coming to Happy Valley.  The Vegas line favors the Wolverines by 7 at this point.

Regardless of their record, the boys in ugly helmets will bring their A game to Beaver stadium.  They always do.  They can play like crap against Appalachian State and then beat us like an old drum.

But not this year.  Not this time.  Not on our turf.  Not during a white out.

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WildCatastrophe

What in the name of sweet baby JoePa was that????!!!!!

Seriously.  What the [insert word] happened?

Granted, we knew this team had some issues.  The offensive line has been about as good as France when it comes to keeping the enemy out of its territory.  Christian Hackenberg vacillates from Heisman hopeful to blind man chucking acorns at a cat.  Our defense has traditionally (as in so far this season) started slow, allowing most opponents to score early on us or at least move the ball at will early, but has to date closed the door when the freaking door needed closing.  It seemed like they not only left the damned door open Saturday, but put up signs to show the way.

This was a team effort loss, that no missed pass interference penalty could hope to save.  Losing on Homecoming, 29-6?  To Northwestern?  Ugh!

Special teams were anything but special.  A blocked field goal and a long punt return to give the Wildcats a short field were glaringly obvious, but what went through Grant Haley’s mind when he tried to run the ball deep out of our endzone on a couple of kick-offs.  This game could have been a lot worse if Northwestern hadn’t kept trying to let us back into it, with missed field goals of their own and one decent punt return by Della Valle, and TWO-count em–PATs missed.  And they still won!

This is worse than a 63-14 loss to a top ranked team.  This was an unranked Northwestern team that although they played fired-up and inspired football against us, is a very pedestrian team.  They will be will be lucky to become bowl eligible (and we appear to be in that location as well.) This was a match-up of two mediocre teams and we outmediocred the competition.  There are no bowls for that kind of effort, unless you count your own toilet bowl.

I honestly thought this was going to be a breakout game.  I hedged my prediction, knowing that we had the aforementioned “issues,” but I did not see this beat down coming.

I don’t know where to begin to pick up the pieces.  Is it simply the sanctions?  Is it coaching?  I really like James Franklin.  I love his style; his energy.  I love his recruiting ability.  But some of his game time decisions leave me scratching my head, although I don’t know for sure if he calls the offensive plays or not.  He is not coaching a group of athletes that he recruited, so we must temper that with our criticism.  Sanctions notwithstanding, he started from zero with this team.  But just because the sanctions have vanished in the future, does not change the effect they had on this team to date.

And you can’t blame the coach for Hackenberg flat out missing a wide open Belton, or any other of the numerous really bad throws he had.  But one wonders why we didn’t see Crook late in the game, when the chance of winning was really beyond what we had time left to do.  Speaking of which, why weren’t we going no huddle in the fourth quarter?  We needed scores, and instead were throwing pick sixes and taking our good old time failing at this one.  I actually think Hack plays better in the hurry-up, pressure on, package–in general.

I’m not saying that Northwestern didn’t play a good game–so if you are a Wildcat fan, don’t get your panties all bunched up.  Ya done good.  Your coach was prepared for this game.  Ours was not, for whatever reason.  And maybe if you keep up that intensity week after week, you’ll make me eat my words.  But until then . . .

I’m going to blame this on ourselves.  The only reason we’re not 5-0 right now is because we did not execute, did not adapt during the game, failed to capitalize on our opponent’s mistakes, and played some of the most uninspired football I have personally witnessed since we lost to Iowa 6-4.  And at least the defense played a great game then!

But this is not a sky is falling rant.  We have another very beatable opponent coming up in the form THEM.  They followed up their epic loss to Utah with an even more epic fail against Minnesota.  Unfortunately, I think we could still outmediocre them as well, but at least we have an extra week to teach blocking, tackling, and kicking.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Per GoPSUsports:

 

Team Statistics

 Team Totals  NU  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  17  14 
   Rushing 
   Passing  14 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  103  50 
   Rushing Attempts  38  25 
   Average Per Rush  2.7  2.0 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  121  79 
   Yards Lost Rushing  18  29 
NET YARDS PASSING  258  216 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  21-37-1  22-46-1 
   Average Per Attempt  7.0  4.7 
   Average Per Completion  12.3  9.8 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  361  266 
   Total offense plays  75  71 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.8  3.7 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  0-0  1-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  8-75  4-35 
PUNTS-YARDS  6-223  7-250 
   Average Yards Per Punt  37.2  35.7 
   Net Yards Per Punt  26.7  29.7 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  6-384  3-191 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  64.0  63.7 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  44.5  36.7 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-42-0  2-43-0 
   Average Per Return  42.0  21.5 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  2-56-0  4-67-0 
   Average Per Return  28.0  16.8 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  1-49-1  1-2-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards  -20 
Possession Time  30:23  29:37 
   1st Quarter  8:58  6:02 
   2nd Quarter  5:46  9:14 
   3rd Quarter  5:52  9:08 
   4th Quarter  9:47  5:13 
Third-Down Conversions  7 of 17  3 of 17 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 2  1 of 4 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  4-6  1-2 
   Touchdowns  3-6  0-2 
   Field goals  1-6  1-2 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  4-20  1-13 
PAT Kicks  2-4  0-0 
Field Goals  1-2  2-3 
Points off turnovers  18 

Pick a number–any number.  It’s bad. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Oh, we were okay in time of possession!  And we actually held the Wildcats to around a 100 yards rushing.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major stuck both flips, so we got that going for us.

The weather was perfect.

The Alumni Band performed–great to see the combined units playing together!

This is Franklin’s first loss.

PSU still owns the all-time record at 13-4.

And just what the hell is with the traffic going through Toftrees???!!!  What a clusterf*ck!  Been going that way for 14 years.  Traffic usually doesn’t back up until you go under the 322 underpass going up Fox Hollow Road.  Took me a goddamned hour from getting off the exit on 322 until we got to our parking spot (bumper to bumper from the first golf cart crossing!)  I shouldn’t have to leave Altoona earlier than 8 am for a freaking noon game.

The traffic at Toftrees . . .

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes struggled early but pulled away from Cincinnati, 50-28.

Likewise, Wisconsin started slow, but beat South Florida 27-10.

MSU soundly defeated Wyoming 56-14.

Rutgers defeated Tulane 31-6.

In conference action . . .

THEM lost to Minnesota 30-14.

Nebraska crushed the Illini 45-14.

Maryland defeated Indiana 37-15.

Purdue Outmediocred Iowa, losing 24-10.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  For the Penn State Alumni–at least the tailgate weather was nice.

2.  For Pitt–losers to Akron 21-10.  Hey, didn’t we beat Akron???

3.  Arkansas–lost to 6th ranked Aggies in OT

4.  UMass–lost 47-42 to Bowling Green to go 0-5.

5.  New Mexico State–lost 63-7 to LSU

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bye week.  We’re not looking any further than that.

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Foe Pause: Catfight Edition

The Northwestern Wildcan’ts are coming to Beaver Stadium, assuming that their flight wasn’t cancelled in Chicago.  If it isn’t a volcano, it’s a fire at a radar facility.

Northwestern is an unimpressive 2-3, but there are those that would argue Penn State’s 4-0 record is equally without awe.  I don’t know about you, but wins and undefeatedness trumps any lame attempt to compare Cal to Rutgers or Northern Illinois to UCF.

The betting line is 10.5 in favor of the home team.

Penn State pwns the all-time record between these academic institutions with a 13-3 advantage.  (This is obviously a rivalry game!)  It is HOMECOMING for the PSU faithful.  The Lions are 4-0 and looking to take one more step closer to bowl eligibility.

So it doesn’t really matter if the Wildcat’s show up?  Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  Our offensive line still has some proving to do.  Our running game, which hinges on the aforementioned offensive line and its success therein, has yet to prove consistency (other than being consistently non-existent.)  Hack might have a great day.  He might not.  We won’t know until about 12:15 tomorrow, or maybe not even until the fourth quarter, say 2:45 give a timeout or two.

The last game versus the men in purple was in Bill O’Brien’s first year.  It was also homecoming.  The Lion’s trailed by 11 at one point, but scored 22 unanswered points, including a two-point conversion, to win 39-28 in the fourth quarter.  Interestingly, the Wildcan’ts were 5-0 that season going into this game.  It is also the game where Pat Fitzgerald, in a decidedly un-Fitzgerald like moment, mocked Bill O’Brien who was chewing out the refs over a bad PI call, while assistant coaches and players taunted the Beaver Stadium crowd who were cheering The Chin’s assault on the myopic refs.  It was not their finest moment, nor their finest game–the Wildcan’ts that is.

So what do we know of this foe?

That just about says it all.

Northwestern is a private institution of higher learning in Evanston, Ill.  Now we could argue until we’re purple in the face as to whether it was smart to build anything in Evanston, but it really won’t get us anywhere, especially if the planes are still grounded at O’Hare.

Most learned people would agree, that northwestern is a compass direction, not a school.  Compasses were around before colleges.  Just sayin . . .

Their school motto is: Quaecumque sunt vera   which means something in Latin.  (I think it might mean compass for a school.)  They say it means “whatsoever things are true,” but who really knows, since Latin hasn’t been used as a legitimate language since the Roman Empire.  Worked out well for them, didn’t it?

Among their many famous Alumni, is Charlton Heston.  Can any one forget this scene:

In the Big Ten this week:

Michigan State takes on Wyoming.  GO SPARTANS!

THEM opens as an 8.5 point favorite over the gophers.  GO MINNESOTA!  (even though a win by THEM helps our strength of schedule.  I’d also rather the wolverines not have any confidence coming into our match-up if its all the same to you.)

The Hoosiers, coming off an upset of Missouri, are favored by 3 over the Terps.  GO INDIANA!

The Badgers are 33 point favorites over South Florida.  Guess we’ll root for Bucky this time!

Rutgers hosts Tulane and is favored by 11.5 points.  Don’t like Rutgers, but strength of schedule, baby!  GO KNIGHTS!

Iowa is favored by 13.5 over Purdue.  We don’t play either one.  Flip a coin and root for whomever you wish!

The Buckeyes square off against Cincinnati.  GO BEARCATS!  (We screw the strength of schedule argument if it means seeing Urban Meyer lose.  That’s priceless.)

The Huskers over the Illini.  GO BIG RED!

In games featuring past opponents:

UMass looks for their first win against Bowling Green.  GO MINUTEMEN!

Akron is a 17.5 point underdog to the panthers.  GO ZIPS!

Prediction:

Penn State wins, 24-10.

GO STATE!  BEAT CATS!

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