What a disaster. What an absolute train wreck. I think the amount of stress I suffered in the last hour of that game shortened my life. NINE overtimes? What even was that?!
We thought it’d be easy, right? With two weeks to regroup, heal, and prepare, all signs pointed to a quick win. Bafflingly, the excitement and relief of Clifford starting the game quickly gave way to the crushing realization that he was nowhere near 100%. The dropped balls, including what would have been a game-ending interception; the lackluster defense (spoiler alert, the Illini are going to run it again); and, an overall dismal offense. I wrote three pages of angry ranting and now that my head has cleared, I find I’m nearly at a loss for words. What can I say? We stunk.
As if watching it wasn't terrible enough, we also have the pleasure of reading the headlines and dissecting the loss with anyone who spies our PSU sweatshirt. This one from Blue-White Illustrated pretty much sums it up: Penn State Football Suffers Complete System Failure vs. Illini.
The disappointment is crushing. I was head over heels invested in this season. I thought this season was finally ours for the taking. The issues, namely the run game, seemed like they’d improve over time rather than become glaring. I really thought our team looked GOOD… but that wasn’t the team I was looking at on Saturday. And maybe won’t see again. I’m so tired of being close but never getting there. It’s exhausting to be a Penn State fan, isn’t it?
I watched the post game interviews looking for answers but found them lacking. Franklin pointed to injuries. Clifford didn’t say much of anything. I get it. What is there to say?
We can grasp at reasons like straws but what would be the point? We can call out the shortcomings of everyone involved but why? To make ourselves feel better about a loss that should’ve been a win? That hardly fixes anything. We can bring our pitchforks to Franklin’s door, demanding he earn his inflated salary by our standards--wins and championships--but to what gain? Vince Lombardi?
Something is clearly amiss and I sincerely hope the Nittany Lions figure it out. Unless we’re part of the program, it’s above our paygrade to search for solutions.
So. Let’s take a collective deep breath— I’ve taken so many these last few days— and see where this season takes us. As Jaquan said in his interview, “we’re gonna see what type of team we are. See if we’re going to step into the challenge...are we going to fall down or get back up?” We as fans will have the same choice to make: will we stick with this team or not?