The Penn State Nittany Lions kicked off their season Saturday with a 24-14 loss against the Ohio University Bobcats. This game marked the beginning of a new era at Penn State with former Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien, as head coach.
This was also the first game where the Lions wore names on the back of their jerseys. Penn State fans were still supportive of the team after the game, and could be heard yelling the “We Are” chant as the team walked off the field.
Penn State started off the game with a strong first drive although it ended with a fumble by running back Bill Belton on Ohio’s 21-yard line. Quarterback Matt McGloin completed 6 of 7 passes for 55 yards with three of them over 10 yards.
The defense came out strong sending Ohio’s offense back to the sideline after a three and out on their first drive, and a second drive that ended with a 36-yard punt.
Penn State would score their only points of the game off a 6-yard touchdown pass from McGloin to Belton, and a 14-yard passing touchdown to tight end Matt Lehman.
The second half belonged to Ohio. They came out a different team and scored on a 43-yard touchdown pass on their first drive. They went on to score 14 more unanswered points.
As a Penn State alum, and fan, the loss was disappointing, but the team still showed potential. McGloin looked better than he did last season. His passes were more accurate with his only interception coming off of a tipped pass.
Another strong point on the offense was the increased involvement of the tight ends. This is something that O’Brien has been promising since he was first hired as head coach. For obvious reasons, I was easily reminded of Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
I believe the weakest points of the game came from the defense in the second half, dropped passes, and special teams. It seemed as if the defense turned into a different team after they ran out the tunnel for the second half. Too many receivers were left wide open which allowed Ohio to keep driving up the field. On special teams, they did block a punt, but they also fumbled the ball twice. This can’t be done against a tougher opponent.
Normally, I would say the lack of defensive plays was their biggest problem if I had to choose between those three, but that’s not the case for this game. I think the multiple dropped passes had a great deal with why Penn State lost the game. In the second half, it seemed that the team was so eager to score that they would often look to make a play before they had complete control of the ball. Being shootout in the second half is another thing that can’t happen if Penn State expects to win games.
Penn State looks to continue their season with a win next Saturday with an away game at Virginia. The game has a scheduled 12 p.m. kick-off.