COLUMBUS, OHIO — When it comes to Saturday’s Penn State performance against Ohio State, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
QB Drew Allar will shoulder some of it, but it’s not all on him.
There’s going to be a lot of blame put on James Franklin, the receivers and a lot of other people in the program.
Much will be made about how horrendous Penn State performed on third down. It went 1-for-16, which is undoubtedly abysmal.
“It’s tough because we put a lot of emphasis on third downs,” tight end Theo Johnson said after the game. “Down periods, literally every play is third down in practice so it’s definitely frustrating and there are some scenarios that we definitely are going need to improve on.”
At the end of the day, you’ve got to execute. Johnson and his teammates struggled in that department, not just on third downs, but throughout the entire game.
The Penn State coaching staff has got to do a better job of putting players in positions to succeed. Allar spent most of the afternoon looking very uncomfortable, his best plays happening as he escaped the pocket.
He didn’t turn the ball over, but his receivers didn’t help him out nor did he help himself. There were multiple times when it seemed like a desire to play perfect football got in the way of making the smart play.
Allar had guys open in the middle of the field, but either a collapsing pocket or another decision led away from him using it.
Ohio State played a lot of Cover 0 defensively against Penn State and used that to its advantage. Penn State doesn’t have a Marvin Harrison Jr., and as such, a go-to receiver wasn’t found on the field Saturday.
Harrison Jr. was the best player on the field on both sides and was the go-to guy when Ohio State needed him. It designed crossing patterns and levels routes that created separation, and in turn, QB Kyle McCord had no fear of throwing over the middle and finding Harrison.
Despite Harrison, Jr. making up 56.6 percent of Ohio State’s receiving yards, the entire defense played well. It gave up only 20 points and two touchdowns to Ohio State. One benefited from a lot from a lot of penalties, one that negated a strip, scoop and score by Curtis Jacobs, which ultimately changed the complexity of the game.
Much like every other moment when Penn State had a chance to turn the tide and turn the momentum their way, Penn State just didn’t get the job done.
“We just didn’t capitalize on base plays, didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that presented themselves,” Johnson said. “I think that’s ultimately what got us beat today. It’s just not being able to capitalize on stuff.”
It’s a tale as old as time when it comes to games in Columbus, in Ann Arbor or against other top-10 teams throughout the Big 10 and country.
This time it wasn’t the defense with a letdown, it was the offense. Manny Diaz’s defense is stout. Even with the loss of Chop Robinson, who left the game due to injury, Penn State played well. PSU had McCord off balance and limited the damage to only one guy, and that was Harrison Jr.
Defensively, there are still things to fix, but overall, it was a solid game. On the flipside, the offense has a lot of work to do. The season doesn’t get much easier with a matchup against Indiana coming Saturday followed by a trip to College Park to take on a Maryland team that should be 6-2 by the time the game comes around.
Following the matchup against the Terrapins, it’s Michigan who comes to town. PSU needs to figure it out offensively in just three weeks to take on Team Harbaugh.
Playing Indiana should help gain some confidence, but Penn State needs an identity. Teams, especially Michigan are going to force Allar and his wideouts to beat Penn State. PSU just needed an average offense to beat the OSU and couldn’t get it done. The same type of performance against the Michigan could lead to things getting ugly quickly.