Midseason report: Penn State

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
7:00
AM ET
Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 5-1 (2-0 Big Ten)

Penn State hasn't settled on a starting quarterback. The Nittany Lions have scored 16 points or fewer in four of their six contests. Coach Joe Paterno has spent the majority of games watching from the press box. Grumbling from fans about the program's direction has grown louder and louder. And despite it all, Penn State sits at 5-1 and tied for first place in the Leaders division. Penn State has its share of concerns, but thanks to a superb defense, it remains in a favorable position in a very vulnerable Big Ten. The team's only loss came in Week 2 to Alabama, a bona fide national championship contender. Penn State reaches the midpoint on a four-game win streak highlighted by Saturday's 13-3 triumph against longtime nemesis Iowa at Beaver Stadium. Tom Bradley's defense has been exceptional, overcoming key personnel losses (LB Michael Mauti, CB D'Anton Lynn) and Penn State's own offensive struggles to stifle the opposition. Devon Still has led the way at defensive tackle, and the overall depth throughout the defense has shown up week after week. Penn State has needed its defense to perform as the offense struggles to find an identity. Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin continue to rotate at quarterback despite McGloin's superior numbers. The offensive line has been spotty, and Penn State's red zone offensive woes from 2010 have carried over. Still, Penn State has to like its position, and if the offense can make strides, the Lions will be dangerous down the stretch.

Offensive MVP: Wide receiver Derek Moye. Slim pickings with this unit, but Moye has done a good job in the rare moments when the offense is clicking. The senior ranks fifth in the Big Ten in receiving yards (80.8 ypg) and sixth in receptions (4.7 rpg) with three touchdown catches and a 17.3 yards-per-catch average. Moye is a bona fide NFL prospect who can stretch defenses. Penn State must find ways to get him the ball more often in the second half.

Defensive MVP: Defensive tackle Devon Still. Other Big Ten defensive tackles received more hype in the preseason -- Jared Crick, Jerel Worthy, Mike Martin -- but none has played at a higher level than Still. The 6-5, 310-pound senior ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (9) and has recorded two sacks, 30 tackles and a fumble recovery. Still and fellow tackle Jordan Hill anchor a defense that ranks fourth nationally in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Monday, 12/22
Saturday, 12/20
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12