Penn State Vs Rutgers: Adjusting Expectations

Penn State Vs Rutgers: Adjusting Expectations

Penn State vs Rutgers

Optimism is a healthy mindset to have. Being positive will help you overcome adversity and keep you in a good place. I’m more pessimistic, in nature, and rarely does it help me with my own fanhood. When your team wins, you expect it. You don’t really get to celebrate it because you’re assuming they’ll screw it up at some point.

Optimistic fans have it best because they can live in the moment and even after a loss, they look at the positives and see all the good things their team can still accomplish.

If you’re a Penn State fan, you need to try to get to a place of appreciation and optimism. Imagine being one of the great many programs out there who’s coaching situation is always in flux. Imagine scraping over the leftover recruits in your region to give your team just enough talent to be able to compete on Saturdays.

Penn State has it great. Coach Franklin is a proven winner who makes the most of the talent around him. He recruits well and gives this team and the fans the promise of a solid season, every year. Think about it like this. You have a legendary program but a state lacking top tier talent at the high school level. You’re lucky to have a top 25 team, given the obstacles.

As someone who is a fan of one of those teams in perpetual flux, I’d feel like a kid on Christmas if you told me James Franklin would be coming to my school. With all that being said, it’s time to pick your heads up and focus on a new goal, a New Years Day bowl appearance.

A look back at Penn State/Ohio State

Last week was a tough pill to swallow. Penn State came into the game as huge underdogs on the road. There are some positives to take away from this game. For one, Sean Clifford was too banged up to continue and a freshman quarterback came in and was able to rally the offense for 17 points in the second half. Journey Brown looked good in limited action, running hard between the tackles and showing us more grit than he’s demonstrated all season.

The defense made big plays, forcing three fumbles. Penn State brought it on defense in this game. The tenacity was there. The effort was there and more prevalent in the second half. The unfortunate part of it all is accepting the fact the Nittany Lions were simply out-gunned. Justin Fields looked like a more polished and potent version of Sean Clifford. He was fast, made the right reads at the right times. He was accurate downfield. With an array of talent all around him, Ohio State, for much of the game, just looked much more powerful all-around.

Had the Nittany Lions not been +2 on turnover margin in the game, the outcome surely would’ve been much worse. The Nittany Lions heralded rush defense couldn’t stop JK Dobbins. They couldn’t properly contain Fields either, but in all honesty, limiting Fields to 68 yards on 21 carries was somewhat impressive. The Ohio State offensive line did an amazing job pushing the outside rush further outside, allowing Fields to go up the middle and challenge the spy on numerous plays.

Defensively, the Ohio State pass rush was incredibly overwhelming. Though Journey Brown was able to find room on occasions, the biggest issue for Penn State was that they simply couldn’t break any really big plays. Ohio State played a more complete game overall and really controlled it from the start.

Previewing Penn State vs Rutgers

Okay folks, this is going to be the “get the team in order” game for Penn State before Bowl season. Penn State is going to need to first decide if they want to play Sean Clifford or go with Will Levis in the game. The safe play is letting Levis get more experience, especially given the matchup with a Rutgers team, who are terrible all-around.

If Clifford can take this game off, he should be plenty rested and ready for a New Years Day bowl game. Penn State is going to have great matchups across the board in this one, as Rutgers really struggles through the air. Though Penn State’s defense has shown they are vulnerable in some areas defensively, their rush defense should be fine against Rutgers. They have had most of their success on ground, based on the idea that Rutgers doesn’t have the pass blocking or talent to exploit the Nittany Lions secondary. With the threat of big plays relatively slim, Penn State should do a great majority of their damage in this game flipping field position and running the ball.

Rutgers allows 196 yards rushing per game, which puts them among the worst in college football. There’s not a lot of news on Noah Cain right now, so I’m anticipating Journey Brown to get a season-high in touches in this one, as Penn State should roll to a casual victory.

Plug the middle on defense

Isaiah Pacheco is a decent running back. I’m not going to say a lot more, because he’d probably be a second or third string back on a better roster. He does this thing where he makes these hesitation jukes with his torso, which is just weird, but isn’t fooling any defenders who are watching the hips and feet, as they should.

Johnny Langan, the quarterback, is not accurate under pressure, nor is he accurate without pressure. He can make plays with his feet, but he’s not the kind of athlete you design a scheme around. If Penn State can get pressure inside and clog the running lanes, it’s going to create some obvious passing down situations and the Rutgers line is going to have all kinds of issues containing the Penn State pass rush.

Run the ball, as much as possible

With the quarterback situation up in the air, the formula is simple for Penn State this week. They need to run the ball as much as possible and look to get the quarterback in situations where he can use his mobility as well. Will Levis showed some Clifford-like mobility last week and maybe exceeds Clifford’s abilities as a ball carrier. I’d like to see Levis on some roll outs and bootlegs to stretch the defense and open the lanes for Journey Brown on the ground.

Prediction

There’s currently no total points line on the game, but the spread is Penn State -40.5. I don’t think we’ll see Sean Clifford in this game because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I’m not sure Penn State will be able to reach that number. I’ve got Penn State making big plays on defense and running all over Rutgers in this one.

Final score: Penn State 45 Rutgers 7