Well, maybe a little frustrating.
Coach Franklin, following the Pitt game said he felt we played “clutch defense.” He repeated the phrase a couple times to make the point that when it really mattered, our defense came up with the stop.
This weekend I think we played “clutch mistakes.” We watched two penalties against Penn State result in a touchdown for Kent State. We watched not one, not two, but three touchdowns come off the board due to penalties against us. Dropped balls, a lost on-sides kick, and an interception. Frustrating to say the least.
We cannot continue with that. Coach talked about needing consistency and I agree. We’re about to enter the Big Ten portion of our schedule. Illinois might not seem like much of a threat, especially considering Kent State led at the half in their matchup, but our routine will be thrown off. We’ll be playing on a Friday night. Our team will not have had a day off in twelve days. It’s our first game Big Ten game of the season. All that makes me nervous. We certainly can’t afford to be inconsistent.
Yet, despite these breakdowns and costly penalties we saw some of our own golden flashes of brilliance. Trace McSorley broke Daryll Clark’s quarterback rushing touchdowns record with his 23rd AND surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards. DeAndre Thompkins surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards, including that gorgeous 40-yard diving catch into the end zone. Shareef Miller had a banner day with two sacks and three tackles for loss. KJ Hamler had a 52-yard kick return. That’s major positives in all three phases. Plus, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the 95-yard touchdown pass thrown by none other than our third-string man, Sean Clifford. Hey-o!
Most importantly, we found a way to win easily once more. A lesser team could have fallen apart after handing Kent State the opportunity to score. A lesser team could have melted down after scoring and retracting three touchdowns. Not this team. Not these Nittany Lions. Not while 106,000 fans showed up in person and thousands more watched on TV and followed online. Once more this team showed us their massive potential to play their toughest on every down, no matter what has come before it.
Just like you said Coach, we’re gonna keep believing in these kids and we’re gonna keep lovin’ ‘em.
See you in Champaign, Nittany Nation. Let’s go 4-0.