The outcome of yesterday’s Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles was a foregone conclusion. I hoped for quarterback clarity and didn’t get it. I also hoped the game would not produce any serious injuries and it certainly did. Michael Mauti is done for 2011 with a left ACL injury. It was quite apparent that before he went to the sidelines it was a serious injury, he had a his left knee wrapped and a towel over his head and was being consoled by others on the sideline. Tough to see, he already lost a year to a right ACL tear. The other injury was CB D’Anton Lynn, who was taken off the field immobilized after a big hit. He is apparently not seriously injured.
Perhaps the least surprising news of the day was that QB Matt McGloin performed very well against lesser competition. Three touchdown passes and a crisp moving offense while he was under-center. It proved once again that McGloin is really a good MAC quarterback playing for a Big Ten team. He certainly outplayed Rob Bolden, the starting Nittany Lions QB and that presents the dilema facing Penn State. Bolden has more potential and physical tools, but has not developed them yet. It is safe to say that McGloin’s already reached his ceiling and that’s good enough against the MAC and lower Big Ten teams Penn State plays. Tough choice, because Bolden has not pulled away yet. I am confident that Bolden could have won yesterday, but perhaps not by such a large margin. I don’t know that next week’s trip to Indiana will provide much clarity either.
Penn State gained the bulk of its yardage through the air — over 300 and 4 TD passes after none in 2011. Focusing on the pass was the right decision to make.
The defense was solid, as expected. EMU surprisingly came out throwing which caught Tom Bradley’s defense off guard. They adjusted though and created 3 turnovers during the game. After Mauti’s unfortunate injury, Nate Stupar performed quite well, getting a sack and tackles for a loss and made a good read to nearly pick off a pass for a sure touchdown return. The defensive line had a strong day too, often flushing out EMU’s quarterback to the right and making him very uncomfortable.
Anthony Fera took over as placekicker and was successful on extra points and field goals. He’s also the punter, so he Saturdays got busier, but it is the right thing to do.
Joe Paterno coached the first half from the sidelines, but returned to the booth for the second half. He said he starting hurt late in the first half and wasn’t as tough as he used to be.
Overall, Penn State played its best game of the season thus far, but at great cost. The good news is that linebacker is the strongest position on Penn State’s team, but not having Mauti around will hurt because of his leadership on and off the field.