Torrence shows that in the Shoe moxie wears scarlet and gray (photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
So how glad are we that it wasn’t straight into Iowa after a bye week? Damn. The Buckeyes made it tough on everyone as it took a full half for the defense to wake up and the offense to shake off the rust of the bye week en route to a 38-14 beat down of the Nittany Joe Pa’s in the Shoe on Saturday. Things were all Penn State early with the walk on McGloin straight blowing up out of his mind in the first half. Everything seemed to be working for him against a soft zone (hate this coverage scheme) with the Buckeye’s unable to mount any type of pressure. The low points were several fourth down conversions, countless hooks and curls for seven yards, a handful of strong runs, two touchdowns, a noticeable stare down from Opie Mc-Groin after a TD pass, and Musberger using the word “moxie” so much that you would have thought that someone was handing him $100 and tickling his balls every time he said it. Throw in the relative impotence on offense during the same half of play (outside of a nice pass to Posey) and honestly it is amazing we were only down 14-3.
It was so bad. I mean even when we managed to stop them on fourth down (when the Lions totally should have kicked the 37 yarder) and got the ball back with time on the clock Tressel shelled up and threw out three of the lamest play calls. Three and out. The Vest has my never ending loyalty but sometimes it is painful to watch the plays called in certain situations.
Nonetheless – we survived the first half and whatever was said or done at halftime worked. The Buckeyes woke up and after the defense sat Penn State down quickly to open the second half the offense marched 96 yards down the field – mostly on the shoulders of Boom and the O line. Boom hit pay dirt and like that it was a 14-10 game. Boom would go on to have another huge day – going for 190 yards, his second 100+ day in a row and for his career. Not bad for a guy considered to be the second or third best back on the team to start the season. The dude is doing work and owning that spot more than ever. Much credit has to be given to the line as well – especially the Brewster, Boren and Adams as much of the yardage was gained to the left. How about Mike Adams? He was a lightning rod for much of his career on an already maligned unit. Against the Nittanys he finally lived up to the hype with some crushing seal blocks in addition to playing solid the past couple weeks as well.
For Pryor it was a strange day. Definitely showed some signs of rust with some air mail passes, completely missing a wide open Sanzenbacher, an ugly pick, and a gift of a deflection TD. He did have some nice runs on a couple read option plays and did find Stoneburner for a score but he needs to play much better against Iowa. The receivers go as TP goes other than Posey having a nice long grab early in the game his stat line was very ordinary. Sanzenbacher was without a catch until the carom TD. The passing game has to step in up the next two weeks.
On defense it was the tale of two halves. The first being an ass raping by Opie McGroin and the underneath routes mixed in with some timely runs up the gut and off tackle. The second being a complete shut down when the complete confidence of the same cocky walk on was destroyed with two pick sixes and a physical defense that left the starting running back limping on the sidelines. The strange things about the first half is that for a second time (third if you count Minnesota’s first drive) that our defense seems very slow to adjust to what the other team is doing and just be content to sit in a soft zone and not pressure the QB. I know it takes time to make adjustments but I still don’t think Penn State was that good of a team to have us on our heels that badly. Regardless it worked out this time – one of the more interesting adjustments that was made in the secondary was moving Howard to corner and Chekwa to safety. Interesting lineup honestly – I never had thought of this. You may lose some experience at corner by having Howard there but you also put the best cover guy as center field help which seems to be the biggest area of concern with Johnson struggling in coverage at times – makes sense especially in passing situations. I wonder if an opposing team has a definitive star #1 receiver if they would stick with this.
The only other observation I took away from the game is how much it is time for Paterno to move on. Really – I get he is a legend and I respect him immensely. But now that he has gotten to 400 he must hang it up. He doesn’t wear a headset anymore and just wanders up and down the sidelines somewhat lost. I don’t want to remember him this way. Much like nobody wants to remember Woody for punching that dude, Woody moved on and became the elder statesman of the University and solidified his legacy. It seems as though Paterno has done that too. Now it is time for him to move on. During his post game press conference he said the reason they did not kick a field goal in the first half to go up 17-3 was because it was 50 yards. It was really only 37.
It was a good win. Nice to see the team come back the way they did. But this week has to be the team from the second half at the beginning of the game. Iowa took one on the chin from Northwestern and will be coming back home with revenge on their mind from last year.