Five Things We Learned: Purdue
On Saturday, the Nittany Lions entered the Boilermakers’ Ross-Ade Stadium, looking for their sixth win of the season. Penn State, ranked No. 24 in the nation, was expected to take home the relatively routine win against Purdue and their 3-4 record. The first half of the game wasn’t all that exciting with both teams neck and neck throughout. Coming back out onto the field for the second half, Penn State immediately took control, outscoring the Boilermakers 24-7 in the third quarter. The Blue and White didn’t stop there however, adding another 21 unanswered points in the fourth to end the game 62-24. Every game has a lot to learn from, and here are five things we learned in Penn State’s game against Purdue.
1. Penn State still can’t figure out how to start games.
It’s hard to find a Penn State fan that will disagree that the school’s football team plays better in the second half. It has gotten to the point where what happens in the first half almost doesn’t matter, most of the points will be scored in the second half of play anyway. The Penn State defense couldn’t stop Purdue from marching down the field and their offense couldn’t stay consistent in the first half. Coach Franklin spent the week telling his team to “Bring their juice,” and start out strong but it hasn’t worked out so far. It will certainly be a big part of practice looking forward to a strong Iowa Hawkeye team.
2. When Barkley is on, he is unstoppable.
In Saturday’s game Saquon Barkley showed, yet again, why he is one of the best running backs in the NCAA. Barkley was handed the ball 18 times with which he ran 207 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. That’s not including his three receptions for 70 yards. As well as the stats that show up in the box score Barkley had many moments that show how talented he is. Barkley got his shoulder down and flattened would-be tacklers to gain a few more yards multiple times during the game. He also performed his trademark hurdle, though it was over lineman Brian Gaia as opposed to a defender. If Barkley can consistently produce this much offense, he could be in the running for the Heisman before he gets drafted into the NFL.
3. Third downs are STILL a problem.
Not surprisingly, Penn State’s biggest offensive problem has yet to be fixed. Penn State was 2-9 on third down. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, the poor third down plays certainly didn’t affect the outcome of the game. Having only nine third downs in a game is very impressive, most drives didn’t see a third down due to the team scoring early or driving down the field quickly. Against tougher opponents it will be a hindrance however. Coach Franklin needs to make third down situations a bigger part of practice.
4. Penn State’s offense doesn’t spend long on the field?
Purdue spent the majority of the game on offense with almost 35 of the 60 minutes of game time. Depending on how you look at that stat it can be seen as both a high point and something to work on for Penn State. In the game Penn State didn’t have possession for longer than four minutes and 21 seconds in a single drive. That means that they charged down the field and scored quickly, certainly a positive. The problem is that gives the other team more time to come back and score. It also means that the drives that didn’t end in a score were three-and-outs, which nobody wants to give up. Against tougher opponents, it will be useful to have the ability to charge down the field with a small amount of time, but the three-and-outs could be killer. It will be interesting to see how the clock is split at the end of tougher games.
5. The Nittany Lions are getting back to their winning ways
After many mediocre years, Penn State fans are able to rejoice at the high achievements they haven’t seen in some time. Against the Boilermakers, Penn State scored 50 points for first time in 7 years. Penn State is also currently expected to win their remaining games. If they succeed in doing so and, depending on the fates of other Big Ten teams, they could possibly make the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009. It is certainly an exciting time for the Penn State faithful, and all should be paying close attention to the rest of the NCAA for the remainder of the season.
Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.