Five Things We Learned: Michigan
Five Things We Learned: Michigan
By: Kevin McConlogue
No. 5 Michigan (8-1, 6-0) defeated No. 14 Penn State (6-3, 3-3) by a score of 42-7 on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium. It was Penn State’s worst loss since a 39-point loss at Michigan Stadium in 2016.
Next week, the Nittany Lions will return home and look to rebound against the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium. Here are five things we learned from Penn State’s matchup with Michigan on Saturday.
1. Trace McSorley was obviously not healthy.
During the week, the number one question during practice was how bad Trace McSorley's knee injury last week really was. The answer was it was pretty significant and it altered every phase of his game this week.
His scrambling ability was limited, and he was uncharacteristically inaccurate throwing the ball. Tommy Stevens was inserted for McSorley because of the injury late in the third. It will be interesting to see if McSorley can get healthy in time for next week or if Stevens will see the field more.
2. Penn State’s offensive line looked overmatched
Penn State’s offensive line has looked good at times this season. Saturday, they faced the best defensive front that they’ll play all season and it did not turn out well.
Michigan had five sacks and there was no running room whatsoever. Penn State had only 68 rushing yards, averaged 2.3 yards per carry and a lot of those yards came in garbage time. Saturday was a game to forget for the offensive line.
3. Time of possession killed Penn State
Michigan came into this game leading the nation in time of possession, and that trend continued against the Nittany Lions.
The Wolverines had the football for 37 minutes, and it felt like a lot longer. Penn State’s defense played well for almost three quarters, but they just ran out of gas by the end because the offense could not string time-consuming drives together.
Penn State's defense was not perfect, but the unit continues to get better. The loss should not be blamed on the defense, as it is nearly impossible to play at a high level for four quarters when your offense can't stay on the field.
4. This team has no offensive identity
What made the Penn State offense great the last two years was that they used to take risks with lots of deep balls and misdirection plays. They used to beat defenses over the top and on the ground.
However, under first-year offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, the Penn State offense has been much more conservative and has lacked explosiveness. There are no wrinkles that would keep a defense off guard, and it just seems like urge and fight isn’t there.
Yes, this team had to replace a lot this season, but they have enough talent to be much better than they have been in recent weeks.
5. Penn State can only go up from here
Getting beat 42-7 by one of your rivals is definitely an extremely low point. Possibly dropping out of the top 25 and losing hope of a New Year’s Six Bowl game might also be called rock bottom.
Penn State just has to leave everything about that game in Ann Arbor, focus on its last three games and finish the season on a high note. If the Nittany Lions don’t, things could go from bad to worse.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.