To be clear, a 63-10 victory over Kent State was far from unexpected but when the score gets that out of hand despite three touchdowns called back, a series full of defensive off-sides penalties that basically handed them their only touchdown, and one more lapse on an onside kick, there is plenty to be excited about and that excitement was on full display on that podium yesterday afternoon. There were plenty of questions heading into the season, most of them surrounding all the talent that needed to be replaced, but after three games, it’s more than clear that the talent is there and the things that need to be fixed are fixable. If Joe was like a grandfatherly figure, FrankLion is like a brother, and in a season where it’s been increasingly hard to pinpoint only one specific Game Ball recipient because so many faces, both old and new, have had a hand in the outcome, James Franklin gets this week’s Game Ball strictly for putting all this excitement together! Now, on to the Helmet Stickers…
Jonathan Thomas, we see you out there ballin' and Mark Allen, you ran like a workhorse. Miles Sanders, you sir are starting to run like the wind. KJ Hamler, every time you touch the ball we hold our breath. Sean Clifford and Daniel George gave us just a little glimpse into the future and Ricky Slade, nice bounce back from last week. DeAndre ‘Don't Sleep On Me’ Thompkins went vertical and laid out to remind everyone he is still a lethal weapon and the O-Line full of Pancake Makers were busy making pancakes all day long. Dare I say it, but Pat Friermuth, you almost made us forget about Mike G yesterday, and of course, none of this would be possible without the Field General, Mr. Five Touchdowns and 31 straight with a passing touchdown himself, Trace McSorley leading his squad.
Shareef ‘the Beast’ Miller, you have clearly become the leader on defense and Kevin Givens continues to make life hell in the trenches. Rob Windsor, those comparisons to Matt Millen (for those watching at home) were not far-fetched at all and Micah Parsons, those comparisons to the original Double-Sticks are already beginning to show, with Lavar’s approval of course. Shaka Toney and Yetur Gross-Matos are all kinds of trouble coming off the edge and Tariq Castro-Fields is starting to resemble a glove out there on those islands. Garrett Taylor brings the hammer again and Nick Scott always seems to be around the ball. In the middle, Jan Johnson has quietly been a force and on the outside, Cam Brown is wreaking havoc. Last but not least, three cheers for the kicking game. We all know the value of Dr. McDreamy…err...punter Blake Gilliken, but there is no underestimating the value of touchbacks on kickoffs from Raphael Checca and the steady toe from true freshman Jake Pinegar on field goals and extra points.
There is little time to bask in the glow of this one. A quick turnaround and a Friday night under the lights versus the Fighting Illini. We came out of the non-conference part of our schedule unscathed and now the Big Ten road of landmines await. We're 3-0 and there’s a blizzard in the works at home in Happy Valley, but first things first. We're all in this as one. Five years after we were first asked to trust the process, pull that rope in the same direction, and fill those stands to the tune of 107k, perhaps just a little of that glow I witnessed on the podium Saturday was a result of it all coming together. James Franklin is smart enough to know that when does, Nittany Nation will be a force to be reckoned with.