It is amazing how one game can lift the spirits, right? The fact of the matter is Penn State’s 34-7 win may not have told us that this team is ready to string together a bunch of wins, but they were able to breath a sigh of relief after a long stretch of negativity on and off the field. Simply put, Penn State’s football players deserved to smile last weekend.
This week the Blue White Roundtable, organized and moderated by our friends from Black Shoe Diaries, asks what we can take from last week’s performance and what to expect from the Temple Owls.
1. Ted Roof’s defense almost pitched a shut out this week against the Midshipmen. Were you surprised by how well they defended the triple option?
No, only because I feel the front seven is a real strength of the team this season and against this style of offense Penn State seemed well-suited to limit the success of the Navy ground game. This is one of those games that you cannot be upset with a high rushing total allowed because that is all Navy tries to do. For the most part, when Penn State needed to come up with some big plays to stop any scoring threat, they did.
2. We’ve gotten to see this team three times this year. What improvements have you seen? Have we taken a step back anywhere? What specifically will you look to see improvement in this week against Temple?
The defense has been a tremendous improvement from week to week, granted that may also be due to the level of competition faced so far. Still, eight turnovers in four weeks does not exactly happen by accident no matter the opponent. The one weakness that continues to be a problem is third down defense. Penn State has struggled to get off the field more often than not, although this is not exactly a new problem at Penn State. It seems like it has been years since Penn State was shutting down offenses on third downs with regular authority. That should be one area that Penn State focuses on this weekend against Temple in my opinion.
3. Temple’s been dangerously close to upsetting Penn State in recent memory. What will Steve Addazio do to attack this Nittany Lions team? How different is this team from last year?
We talked a little bit about Temple and what they bring to the table in our podcast today. What you can expect to see from Temple should be similar to what we have seen a lot of the past two seasons, which is an offense based on the run and physical defense capable of roughing Penn State’s offense up enough to get the frustrated in hopes of keeping things close in the second half.
There is no secret here. Temple will want to get their running game going and control the clock as much as possible. Temple should know that Penn State has a way of starting well this season, so if they can keep Penn State’s offense off the field as much early on and can lull them in to a grind-em-out sort of game, the Owls will keep this thing close and give them the best chance to win with the edge in special teams. Penn State will be more willing to gamble for touchdowns rather short field goals, but the Owls will take whatever points they can as long as kicker/punter Brandon McManus is available. McManus not only should be near automatic on most field goal attempts, he will be the best punter in the game.
So again, for Temple the keys will be to keep Penn State from starting hot, control the game clock and realize the field position and special teams factors play in their favor.
I expect another low-scoring contest between Penn State and Temple. I think McGloin finds some success with Allen Robinson early on but I question if the passing game will be able to keep it going for four quarters. But no matter how much Penn State’s pass attack struggles to be consistent, I do not even know if Temple’s air attack will be a viable threat. So this one comes down to whether or not Temple can use Matt Brown and a possibly healthy Montel Harris effectively to wear down Penn State up front. Penn State was worn down against Ohio, and that could happen once again against Temple.
But when push comes to shove, I think Penn State gets the last laugh and wins a tight one.
Penn State 20, Temple 17
Subscribe to the Nittany Lions Den Footbal Podcast on iTunes.