Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Midseason review: Penn State
By ESPN.com staff
Penn State Nittany Lions
Record: 3-3 (0-2 Big Ten)
Penn State entered the season with somewhat tempered expectations after losing more individual standouts -- seven All-Big Ten performers from 2009, including three first-team selections -- than any team in the league. But no one in Happy Valley expected this. The Nittany Lions reach the midpoint of the season at 3-3, but totally unsure of who they are after getting pounded at home by Illinois. They rank last in the Big Ten in both scoring (18.2 ppg) and total offense (335.2 ypg), struggles you can attribute partly to starting a true freshman quarterback in Rob Bolden. But Bolden doesn't deserve blame for a unit that boasts a senior running back in Evan Royster and enough experience along the offensive line. Penn State twice has been held out of the end zone and hasn't eclipsed 24 points against an FBS opponent. The defense held up nicely for a while, but injuries both before and during last Saturday's game against Illinois leave the unit depleted. If Tom Bradley can't fill gaps after the bye week, it could be a very long second half. Penn State clearly has enough talent to turn things around, but the preseason questions about leadership, from Joe Paterno on down, are very real. It's very hard to replace replace leaders like Daryll Clark and Sean Lee, and Paterno's involvement after a rough spring/summer of health-related issues is up for debate.
Offensive MVP, WR Derek Moye: There aren't many candidates for a struggling unit, but Moye turned in a nice first half. The junior leads Penn State in both receptions (22) and receiving yards (17.1 ypg), and he has showcased his big-play ability on more than one occasion, hauling in an 80-yard touchdown from Bolden against Illinois. Fellow wideouts Brett Brackett and Devon Smith also have done some good things.
Defensive MVP, LB Chris Colasanti: Safety Nick Sukay (3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble) has made more impact plays, but Colasanti's overall production can't be overlooked for a defense that held its own before the injury bug struck. Colasanti leads the Big Ten with 59 tackles, including 18 against Illinois, the highest single-game total at Penn State since Dan Connor in 2007. Colasanti boasts four tackles for loss and a pass breakup.