There’s always a lot to like and not like during a football game. This is my comprehensive list of things I liked and did not like, starting with the most important plays of the game, then going through the contest from the beginning.
Don’t like: That 2-point conversion should not have counted, in my opinion. From every replay I saw, it appeared the ball hit the white out of bounds first before hitting the pylon. I think it was a bad call. However, as James Franklin said, when one call is made on the field and replays are very, very close, it’s hard for the officials to overturn it.
Like: From Indiana’s perspective, the Hoosiers did a smart thing letting Devyn Ford score a TD from 14 yards out with 1:42 left. That made it an eight-point game and gave Indiana at least a shot, getting the ball back.
Don’t like: From PSU’s perspective, Ford should have gone down on his late TD run instead of going into the end zone untouched. Now, that is a tough thing to think of in that moment, but it’s also something coaches should work on with players in those situations. Franklin said they’ve worked on that situation many times, but when the game is on the line, that kind of mistake just cannot happen.
Don’t like: What the holy hell was Indiana doing with that onside kick with 21 seconds left????
Don’t like: Penn State’s chances next week against Ohio State. This loss is gonna sting big time, and I can see the Buckeyes winning handily. It will be a major test of the Lions’ leadership and character this week. There are veterans on this team who are good in those roles.
Like: ESPN’s College GameDay is coming to PSU next week, as pretty much everyone expected.
WE'RE HEADED TO HAPPY VALLEY!
See you next week for Ohio State vs. Penn State 👏 pic.twitter.com/FNzYd2ce4j
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 25, 2020
Don’t like: Penn State was uncharacteristically hurt by penalties, with 10 for 100 yards. The Lions shot themselves in the foot time and again.
Like: This game was a heck of a lot of fun, as crazy as it was.
Don’t like: Games like this being decided by referees. Ever. Especially when they get it wrong.
Like: Sean Clifford had back-to-back fantastic plays when his team needed him most. He scrambled for 14 yards to the 40 on second-and-10, then on the next play, he avoided pressure, stepped up into the pocket and fired a deep strike to Jahan Dotson for a go-ahead 60-yard TD with 2:30 to go.
Like: Clifford was fantastic running the ball. I know, go figure! The quarterback took off at all the right times and finished with 119 yards on 17 carries.
Don’t like: PSU’s special teams were terrible. Just awful. The Lions were 0-for-3 on field goals in a game they lost by one point. They also put the ball on the ground and made other key mistakes.
Don’t like: Kirk Ciarrocca had two questionable play calls once the Lions got to third-and-5 from the Indiana 29 with 5 minutes left. He ran Caziah Holmes into the middle of the line, a play that did gain 4 yards, then on fourth-and-1 he ran Keyvone Lee into the middle for a 1-yard loss. The Lions clearly were committed to the run in that situation, but keep in mind, Ciarrocca was doing that with two freshmen playing in their first game on the road against a Big Ten opponent. The Holmes run did at least gain good yardage, so maybe Ciarrocca gets a break there. But the fourth-down call makes you shake your head. On neither of the two plays did PSU look to get the ball to its All-American tight end, Pat Freiermuth.
Don’t like: A huge targeting call on linebacker Jesse Luketa proves costly for two games for the Lions. Luketa was ejected early in the fourth quarter after targeting receiver Miles Marshall. The 15-yard penalty, after a 13-yard catch, moved the Hoosiers to the Penn State 26. Now, Luketa also will have to miss the first half of next week’s showdown against Ohio State, a big blow to the defense against a powerful Buckeye offense.
Like: Clifford’s 35-yard TD run was a smart choice, a good run and a great play for the Lions. As he had done all day, Clifford realized when to call his own number, and he caught the Indiana defense by surprise. He went up the middle, made a nice cut back to his left and finished it off by reaching the end zone. At that point, Clifford had 82 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Like: Went tempo on first drive, after getting a first down deep Indiana territory. We never saw that in the “hurry up and wait” system ran by Joe Moorhead and Ricky Rahne in recent years.
Like: Mixed it up between Noah Cain and Devyn Ford on first series, getting both involved early.
Don’t like: Cain had to go into the medical tent with some type of ankle situation.
Like: The Lions went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2 on their opening drive. They could have taken points to assure something from the drive, but they set an aggressive tone by going for it.
LOVE: The play call on fourth-and-goal at the 2. A little play action and then a soft toss to Pat Freiermuth in the end zone. A thing of beauty. It capped a 13-play, 64-yard opening drive.
Like: Joey Porter Jr. made an immediate impact on the first series of his career, getting an 8-yard sack on third-and-9 from the 26. Porter exploded in from the left edge for the easy sack.
Like: The Lions went tempo again on third-and-1 from their own 44 on the second possession. That’s a good call on that kind of play and something that will work more often than not.
Don’t like: On this third-and-1, however, Devyn Ford was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.
Don’t like: Jahan Dotson ran up and tried to make a fair catch on a punt after Indiana’s second series. Teammate Marquis Wilson collided with Dotson on the play, and Dotson fumbled, with the Hoosiers recovering at the PSU 34. That kind of miscommunication shouldn’t happen on special teams, but it’s not a huge surprise given it’s the opener and sloppy plays pop up from time to time. Penn State got a break on the play as a member of Indiana’s kicking team went out of bounds and was called for a penalty, leading to a rekick.
Don’t like: Sean Clifford threw an awful interception on PSU’s third series, trying to lob a short pass to Devyn Ford and instead sailing it right into the arms of Jaylin Williams. The Hoosiers returned it 14 yards to the PSU 38 to set up a scoring opportunity.
Don’t like: PSU’s defense allowed the Hoosiers to run for a couple of first downs to move deeper into Lion territory after the interception.
Like: The Lions did step up and stop Indiana at the 16, forcing only a field goal that made it 7-3. All in all, that’s not a bad result after Clifford’s bad interception.
Don’t like: Caziah Holmes put the ball on the ground on the first carry of his career in the second quarter. It initially was ruled a fumble after a 4-yard gain, but replay showed he was down before the ball came out. Still, you never like to see the ball come out with a young player.
Don’t like: Indiana got away with what looked like a clear push off on a 21-yard pass play from Penix to Ty Fryfogle that helped start a scoring drive.
Don’t like: The seas parted down the middle on Stevie Scott’s 14-yard TD run that gave the Hoosiers a 10-7 lead. Scott had a huge hole, then barreled over Ji’Ayir Brown way into the end zone for the final 2 yards.
Don’t like: Lamont Wade fumbled the ensuring kickoff at the goal line and only managed to make it out to the 5-yard line before being tackled. That kind of thing just can’t happen, but again, it was all part of a sloppy start by the Lions.
Don’t like: Another terrible throw by Clifford from inside his own 10 led to his second interception. Jamar Johnson picked off the overthrow and returned it 18 yards to the 4, setting up another TD run by Scott. Clifford sailed both interceptions, and this one was particularly bad because it came deep in his own territory.
Don’t like: The Lions had a third-and-2 and brought in backup QB Will Levis for the play, only to get a delay of game penalty. Sloppy.
Don’t like: The Lions were in position for a touchdown, facing third-and-1 from the 7, and brought in Will Levis in the closing seconds of the half. For whatever reason, teams seem to love giving backup QBs a chance to run the ball, but it often leads to bad results. It was a disastrous result this time as Levis fumbled. Maybe not go back to the Lion package too much.
Like: The Lions kept playing hard in the closing seconds of the half as Indiana was trying to run out the clock, and it led to points. Antonio Shelton forced a fumble by Stevie Scott, and Lamont Wade recovered at the 8 to give PSU a chance to end the half on a high note.
Don’t like: But of course, the sloppy first half ended in extra sloppy fashion, as Jake Pinegar’s 25-yard field goal try hit the left upright.
Like: The defense opened the second half with a stop, preventing Indiana from gaining even more momentum.
Like: Sean Clifford ran the ball well, up the middle, catching Indiana’s defense by surprise several times for nice gains.
Like: Clifford made an excellent throw to KeAndre Lambert-Smith to convert a third-and-9 from the PSU 17 on the first offensive series of the second half. That play kept the drive alive, and the Lions kept moving up the field behind the legs of Keyvone Lee and Clifford. For as poorly as he threw the ball in the first half, that was a key throw and conversion.
Don’t like: The Lions had the ball at the Indiana 15 during an impressive drive, but Pat Freiermuth was flagged for offensive pass interference. That cost PSU 15 yards and killed a chance at a touchdown on the drive. Some believe Freiermuth didn’t do much to warrant the penalty, but he got one anyway.
Don’t like: In one of the game’s biggest plays, Daniel George dropped a good pass from Clifford over the middle on third-and-24 from the 30, which would have given PSU a first down????? Instead, PSU came up empty after a long drive when Jake Pinegar missed a 47-yard field goal wide left.
Like: After the missed field goal, Lamont Wade picked off a pass to give the Lions the ball right back at their own 43.
Like: On third-and-1 at the Indiana 32, PSU went back to tempo, and Devyn Ford got 3 yards for a first down.