Game Ball and Helmet Stickers: Michigan
One regular season game to go and it seems there is now no other choice than to mark it down as a loss. Not because we can't win, but simply because we won't. We won't be able to fix a kicking game that has plagued us now for two years. We won't be able to seize momentum and keep it longer than the ensuing kickoff to our opponent. We won't be able to keep from calling our NFL-bound QB a warrior because all we ever do is watch him pick himself up off the ground after another brutal collision. It is not a matter of things we can't do, it has become a matter of things we won't do. We are eleven games in. If those things haven't been fixed by now, it's not going to happen. I have run out of excuses to feed you. We have run out of time to call it any other way than it is. The Road to Redemption has crossed the line between wins and losses and has taken a turn for the worse.
Penn State lost to Michigan 28-16 on Saturday. The game was much closer than the final score indicates. In fact Penn State could have won that game, maybe should have. We certainly had our chances. Make no mistake about it, Michigan deserves all the credit. They are well coached, played like the veterans they are, and made the little things count. Same can be said for Northwestern, Ohio State, and even Temple who find themselves back in the Top 25 today, and rightfully so. Four losses to four quality opponents. Nothing to cry over, but the patience is wearing thin in regards to when we will climb over that hump, if ever. Time for a Game Ball and a few Helmet Stickers....
His name hasn't shown up much on the stat lines over the years. And yet, his face seems to be everywhere. Every pep rally. Every THON event. Every trip to Hershey Medical Center to visit the kids and every Lift For Life. In many ways, he has been the face of Penn State football over the past five years. A true Lion Ambassador, despite not having his name in the spotlight. On Saturday, as the final 6 remaining seniors from Joe Paterno's last recruiting class walked onto the field for the last time, he walked out with J.V.P. and 409 written on his taped up wrists . As subtle a gesture as it may have been, it was a gesture that explained exactly what those seniors faced over their careers as student-athletes at Penn State University. Matt Zanellato, today’s Game Ball goes to you, my friend. You have not gone unnoticed and we all appreciate what you have given to this program. Through its darkest hour, you have continued the tradition of Success With Honor. Thank you.
Von Walker gets a helmet sticker for his blocked punt as does Brandon Bell for his forced fumble. Both plays were game changing and kept our hopes alive. Saeed Blacknall receives one for his 3rd quarter TD and Tyler Davis gets one for making good on all 3 of his field goal attempts. As much as we missed Carl Nassib on Saturday, I think his replacements Torrance Brown and Curtis Cothran both did well in his absence and served notice that there is much to look forward to down the road. Christian Hackenberg gets one just for simply getting up, over and over and over again. It's been painful to watch at times, and yet he still has not missed an entire series in his three years as a Nittany Lion. Last but not least, a helmet sticker goes out to the White Out crowd. All 107k plus! Out of Michigan’s 13 total penalties, 7 of them were for offsides. The final score may not have gone in our favor, but once again, the White Out was a smashing success.
For the record, I had myself a nice heaping tall glass of Franklin Kool-Aid this morning. It was delicious, I am not ashamed to admit. I believe in the guy like we all Billieved in Bill O'Brien. Frankly, we have no choice. He is not going anywhere, so put your booster money away. It won't make it happen. The man works too hard and too tirelessly, for the good of Penn State to not deserve every opportunity to elevate the Nittany Lions back into elite status. The man has embraced our culture, he has grasped our tradition, and he has paid his respects to our past. He has given us expectations that no one predicted even remotely possible four short years ago. That being said, the natives are restless and James Franklin is partially to blame. He is the one that helped raise those expectations after all. Sooner or later, we are going to have to actually win one of these games we're not supposed to. Eventually, those expectations need to be met. After this season, the room for excuses will close. Hell, even I, Mr. Positivity, had a small hint of aftertaste in my mouth this morning, as good as the Kool-Aid was.