Sunday, September 09, 2007

Penn State 31, Notre Dame 10


Courtesy AP/Gene J. Puskar

Well, it's a start. Coach Weis kept things simple at first, allowing Jimmy Clausen to throw only screens and swing passes. He handled those well, and threw downfield later on. Despite his early success, though, Clausen completed just over 50% of his passes, was sacked 6 times, and threw a pick

Running Back: Four backs combined for 25 yards on 16 carries against Penn State's stout front seven. Armando Allen, who got the starting nod alongside his fellow freshman, did have success catching passes out of the backfield. Allen led the team with 6 catches and totalled 38 yards.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp did not touch the football in this game.

Receiver: David Grimes stepped up as best he could, with 5 catches for a team-high 45 yards. George West had 2 catches for 9, Duval Kamara had one for 6, and Robby Paris had a big one for 35.

Tight End: John Carlson has struggled so far this season. Of course, he spent most of this game helping with the pass blocking. He finished with 1 catch for 5 yards. Will Yeatman added one catch for 6 yards.

O-Line: Six sacks and 0 net rushing yards. Going across the line, Paul Duncan got his name called far more often than a lineman should have. Michael Turkovich gets credit for playing hard despite getting popped in the mouth early, but looked slow on plays when he was required to pull. (But in Turkovich's defense, Allen does need to learn to wait for his blocks.) John Sullivan actually played well, but there's only one of him. Dan Wenger looked overmatched. Sam Young appears to be trying to hard, assumedly because he feels a need to take a leadership role as the line's second most veteran member. Then again, it's not his fault that that's the case.

D-Line: Trevor Laws had a busy day, tying for the team lead with 10 tackles and recovering a fumble. Pat Kuntz also came up big with 8 tackles, 0.5 for a loss. Justin Brown was demoted to backup, perhaps due to his ejection from last week's game, but he still managed 3 tackles and half a sack. Ian Williams added 3 of his own in a backup role.

Linebacker: Once again, Joe Brockington has quietly but deservedly worked his way into the starting lineup. Brockington had 10 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and recovered a fumble. Mo Crum added 6 tackles, John Ryan added 4, including the other half of Brown's sack, Anthony Vernaglia had 3 tackles, and Mo Richardson had a sack.

Safety: Tom Zbikowski turned in a decent performance, recording 6 tackles and forcing two fumbles in run support. David Bruton added 2 tackles, and in an increasing role Kyle McCarthy had one stop.


Courtesy AP/Gene J. Puskar

It was the highlight of the game for the Irish, but unfortunately one play's worth of momentum does not a win make. Still, Darrin Walls made a spectacular interception and finally got a good chance to show off his return skills (after what may be considered a failed experiment as a kick returner last year) with a 73-yard touchdown. Walls, Ambrose Wooden, and Leo Ferrine - who came in after an injury to Terrail Lambert - each had 2 tackles.

Kicker: Nate Whitaker missed his first collegiate field goal attempt, from 50 yards. But it had the distance and was simply wide, so I'll take that as a positive. Brandon Walker made his attempt from 22 yards.

Punter: Geoff Price is back, averaging 44.8 yards per punt with a long of 57. Eric Maust added a 45 yard punt of his own.

Kick Returner: Armando Allen averaged 22 yards on 3 returns, while Golden Tate's lone return went for 34 yards.

Punt Returner: Thanks to solid work from Penn State, Tom Zbikowski managed only one punt return. Of course, he did take that one for 47 yards.

Special Teams: Derrick Williams should have been stopped for no gain on a punt return. Instead, he sidestepped a tackle and went 78 yards for a backbreaking touchdown. Notre Dame gave up 25 yards per punt return and 32 per kick return. Bluntly, neither is an acceptable number.