McGloin, Receivers, Defense Get the Job Done

Posted by on October 23, 2011

Matt McGloin finally got the start he earned, playing every down in Penn State’s key road win over Northwestern.

In the absence of their leader, the Lions’ receiving corps stepped up and did the job, especially mighty mite Devon Smith.

The defense, facing its toughest test since Alabama, faltered a bit early, but got the big sacks and key turnover when the team needed them.

In short, Penn State did what it needed to in security Joe Paterno’s 408th career win, tying him with Eddie Robinson for first all-time among major colleges.

PSU’s running game thrived as expected against the Wildcats’ rather porous defense, with another impressive performance by Silas Redd, and the return of Stephon Green.

While McGloin made a few mistakes, he looked good overall, hitting some sharp thrown between defenders and not making key mistakes in the red zone–even scrambling for a big first down when no receiver was open.

Once the defense settled down, Devon Still, Jordan Hill, Eric Latimore and Gerald Hodges overwhelmed the Northwestern O line and knocked pesky QB Dan Persa out of the game late.

Susquehannock’s Chaz Powell made up for a fumble on the opening kick by returning the next boot into Wildcat territory, and the special teams, a big liability early in the year, continue to be at least a wash with Anthony Fera’s steady kicking and punting.

Not all was rosy.  For the third time this year, the Lions had a touchdown nullified by a penalty.  And, the offense had the chance twice to put the game away by finishing drives and couldn’t do it.  The defense also benefited by two huge dropped passes, one of which would have been a Wildcat touchdown.

Suddenly stumbling Illinois comes to Happy Valley next, off a mind numbing loss to Purdue.  Ron Zook’s teams have a way of imploding, and they may be ready to do so at the perfect time for Penn State.

The Lions have this one more game, which looks increasingly winnable, before an off week, and then the killer season-ending stretch of Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.

PSU needs to heed that old adage of one at a time and concentrate on Illinois, then take that perfectly timed week off to get Derek Moye back and ponder a season suddenly full of unlikely possibilities.

But first things first;  get ready for the Illini, who will be fighting for their lives.

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