We’re 3-0 and struggling in more than one phase. Our O-Line has failed to separate themselves from the stigma of being considered the weak link and our D-Line has yet to live up to those enormous expectations they were tagged with back in August. But the flashes are there. For all the yards through the air that Pitt just put up, or the gaudy numbers on the ground pounded out by, ahem, Buffalo, the Nittany Lion D has only surrendered 30 points altogether. Talk about bend but don’t break, they’ve been living on the edge but have also turned into a brick wall when it matters most. As for the Big Uglies, we saw them pound the line of scrimmage on that go-ahead drive late in the third quarter this past Saturday. If we can get that kind of push game in and game out, expectations could ramp up to an all-time high.
And then there’s Sean Clifford, the big red dog. Sorry, I had to. Just a little nod to all the signs gone haywire for our new quarterback. Pitt did everything they could to take him out but he stood in there like a man and took every blow. He didn’t have his best day by a long shot and his passing touch was just a little off, but he guided his squad to another W. Three games in, he has yet to throw an interception and has more than proven his worth with his feet. I like the kid. A lot actually, as we’re still in the process of acquainting ourselves. In fact, as the kids today like to say, I’m looking forward to what’s ahead as we ‘ride or die' with this guy. He hasn’t had to flip that switch yet as they all do eventually, but as I watch him grow into the role, I think he’s got the guts and swagger to come out swinging when our backs are against the wall. He’s got that sparkle in his eye and I can’t wait to watch him shine.
What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is we are a work in progress. Far from the finished product, but I also think some of that is by design. By no means do I think we take it easy on anyone or play down to the competition, but I do believe we tend to keep it as vanilla as possible in the non-conference slate. When the heat needs to be turned up, it is, if you catch my drift.
Fear the Turtle, we’ve been warned as Maryland lays in wait. They got off to another one of their patented red-hot starts only to watch it all crash and burn at the hands of our old friend Temple. Some say it was simply just a case of them looking ahead to a dance with Penn State. As we game planned for Pitt I was reading articles about a student-section sellout and their attempts to cause a ‘blackout' when Happy Valley rolls into College Park. I say enough with the excuses, Football 101 clearly states don’t get caught looking ahead. We’ve both got the next seven days to figure out who’s hungrier. As it stands, I’m already suffering from a severe case of the Bye Week Blues, and a hearty bowl of turtle soup seems just what the doctor ordered. Hang in there Nittany Nation, the best is yet to come!