Let them see who we are.
This Saturday I believe we will see the best effort of the season by a Nittany Lion team that has had to shoulder criticism for the better part of a month. For 27 days I've listened (and I'm sure the players have heard it too) how the "Offensive Line is garbage", that "Christian Hackenberg isn't all that good. He holds the ball too long and is inconsistent; he regressed" or that "We lack a great skill player."
I've heard the fans say, "Well, wait until next year," or that "We're doing what we can with sanctions, but the kids we have just can't compete with the talent over there." The talking heads of various sports news outlets talking of the future, but not now. Talk of a brighter tomorrow, but for now, a dreadful today.
I won't stand for it.
Does the team have flaws? Absolutely. But so does every team.
I believe that we have the will and the ability to improve this year. After watching the games, my own personal feeling is that the offense is going through a transition period with very young personnel across the board. On top of which there are other mitigating factors such as injuries, both disclosed, and those that may not be talked about. This has resulted in missed blocking assignments, missed coverage reads, and wrong routes.
What has NOT been a factor has been the physical talent or effort put forth by the individuals. Rarely have I seen any player on the offensively line routinely beaten on one-on-one match-ups, but rather dealing with complex stunts and blitzes has been their biggest struggle. Hackenberg clearly has the arm talent to make almost any throw, and all of the receivers have shown the ability to get open and make plays. Consistency and understanding hot routes have been their largest issue.
For the past 3 years Penn State football has been all about effort and resiliency. About team and camaraderie. About being more than what others expect. About being counted out by others, and having the individual and collective will to accomplish your goals.
It has not been easy, and yes we have at times failed to accomplish what we've set out to do.
But we keep fighting.
We fight to prove we belong NOW.
Today and tonight, as people from all over the region descend upon our happy hamlet, and for the millions that will watch on television; let's show them that the Penn State spirit is about optimism, excellence, and humility.
From the players, to the coaching staff, to ourselves as fans, we have an obligation to show the world that we will not quit after a setback. That we will not lose focus after success. That at all times, we respect our opponents, our teammates, and ourselves.
Because that is what we want to watch.
Because that is who we've been.
Because that is who we strive to be.
Because that is Penn State Football.
Come look at us.