Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:40 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
HOUSTON WON. Case Keenum became just the ninth player to top 500 yards passing in a bowl game by going 45-69 for 532 yards and three touchdowns, and Houston coasted to a 30-14 victory. Keenum and Patrick Edwards hooked up for their 19th and 20th touchdowns of the year, and Edwards finished with nine catches for 228 yards and two TDs in the winning effort.
HOW HOUSTON WON: All Houston had to do was score a couple touchdowns and Penn State wasn't going to outscore them. Houston took care of that in the opening quarter, where Case Keenum led the Cougars to 17 points and over 200 yards of offense. From there, it wasn't hard to keep Rob Bolden and the Penn State offense in check, and Houston eased off on the gas pedal accordingly.
WHEN HOUSTON WON: Houston held a double-digit lead for the vast majority of the game, but Penn State's ability to keep the Cougars out of the end zone in the second half meant that this was still a two-possession game for most of the 4th quarter, and even for PSU, two scores in 5-10 minutes isn't completely out of the question. Indeed, Rob Bolden had speedy wideout Devon Smith open on a fly route late in the fourth quarter, and Smith could only get one hand on the pass. If he catches it and PSU converts the two-point conversion, this would have been a one-score game. Smith let the pass fall, Rob Bolden threw a horrific interception on his very next throw, and the game was effectively over.
WHAT HOUSTON WON: Houston landed a huge blow to the common refrain that the Cougars were undeserving of major bowl consideration by whacking a nationally ranked team from an automatic qualifier conference. Yes, Penn State had its own issues, but none of those issues had anything to do with the Nittany Lion pass defense, and Keenum absolutely torched that D. PSU had a top-five pass defense coming into the game. Had.
WHAT PENN STATE LOST: Undoubtedly, Penn State and its fans just wanted this season to be over, and now it is. Rob Bolden was tantalizing on deep throws but utterly lost on the routine ones, so he blew an opportunity to make a case for starting over Matt McGloin (who missed the game after suffering a head injury in a fight with WR Curtis Drake) next year. Similarly, Tom Bradley's 1-3 record as interim head coach may likely have precluded him from being the lead candidate for the job. There really weren't any positives for this season by the end of it, and now it's time for Penn State to address its larger issues off the field.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Not only was Case Keenum's performance close to record-setting, it could have been so much worse. 380 of Keenum's 532 passing yards came in the first half, which led most to believe that a 600-yard performace was upcoming. Only 152 passing yards in the second half? Outrage! Disappointment!
FINAL GRADE: C-. It would be wrong to turn one's nose up at a 500-yard passing performance, so congratulations to Keenum and Houston for that, but this game was basically never competitive; Houston spent over 54 minutes of game time with a double-digit lead, and Penn State's offense was so anemic that a 10-point lead may as well have been 50 points.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:56 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
PENN STATE WILL WIN IF: Rob Bolden is a different quarterback when he's not looking over his shoulder. Rob Bolden was a highly touted quarterback recruit for Penn State, and when he became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Penn State in the 2010 season, the primary reaction was one of excitement and not, say, the revulsion that Penn State fans have felt whenever Bolden has come into a game this season as part of the QB rotation. Bolden has completed under half of his 107 passes and has only one touchdown to his name on the year, so we're talking about a level of (non-) production that few quarterbacks who have attempted over 100 passes in a season can match. And now, Bolden is the unquestioned starter, as starting QB Matt McGloin has been ruled out as he continues to recover from the concussion he suffered when WR Curtis Drake knocked him out in a December fight. Perhaps Bolden just needs to get into a groove and not stand on the sidelines for 2/3 of a game. Perhaps he's got a big game dialed up. Perhaps.
HOUSTON WILL WIN IF: Case Keenum can stay upright for 90% of his pass plays. Case Keenum, the NCAA's leading passer in all of history, is obviously very good at throwing the football, and he's got a host of talented wideouts. What he's also got in the TicketCity Bowl is an opposing defense that ranked fifth nationally (and first in a stingy Big Ten) in pass efficiency defense, and that fact stems from Penn State having both an outstanding secondary and a top-notch defensive line. Houston's offensive line needs to keep the Nittany Lion pass rush as far away from Keenum as possible, because a pass offense as predicated on timing as Houston's is can ill afford to have its QB flushed from the pocket or taking sacks. The cleaner Keenum's jersey stays, the better a chance Houston has of winning this thing.
X-FACTOR: Both teams are working with an interim head coach right now; Penn State has been using defensive coordinator Tom Bradley ever since Joe Paterno was fired mid-season, and Houston's special teams coordinator Tony Levine has been heading the Cougars since Kevin Sumlin was hired by Texas A&M. Penn State's approach has been largely similar to Joe Paterno's tendencies, though the quarterback rotation was quickly scrapped, and it'll be interesting to see if there's any substantial difference between a Kevin Sumlin offense and a Tony Levine offense. Regardless, both Bradley and Levine are basically auditioning as head coaches, as both men are potential candidates for the job, and there should be no shortage of motivation for either of them to put together a winning gameplan.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 6:28 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier this week, Penn State announced that Curtis Drake, the sophomore wide receiver who sent QB Matt McGloin to the hospital with head injuries after a fight, would not join the team for the TicketCity Bowl. Now, McGloin will miss the game as well.
According to PennLive.com, Penn State head coach Tom Bradley said on Sunday that McGloin would be out for the TicketCity Bowl against Houston, and that means Rob Bolden will be under center for the Nittany Lions instead. Bolden and McGloin had been in a QB platoon for most of the season, and it was only after Joe Paterno was fired that McGloin was named the full-time starter.
McGloin was knocked out in the fight, and according to his father, he suffered a seizure and a probable concussion as an aftermath of the fight. He has been with the team in Dallas, but not practicing; McGloin was meeting with area physicians last week.
Neither McGloin nor Bolden have been particularly productive for the Nittany Lions, but McGloin eventually established himself as the more effective of the two QBs. McGloin went 125-231 for 1571 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions on the year for an underwhelming 118.3 QB rating, but that production vastly outpaced Bolden's effort: 46-109, 548 yards, one touchdown, four picks, and an 80.1 QB rating. Bolden was a highly-rated QB recruit and the first true freshman to ever start a game at quarterback for Joe Paterno, while McGloin was a former walk-on, but it's become readily apparent that McGloin has been the better quarterback over the last two seasons.
For all the latest on Penn State's coaching search and preparation for the TicketCity Bowl against Houston on Jan. 2, follow Nittany Lions Rapid Reports.
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Posted on: December 27, 2011 5:45 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Curtis Drake, the Penn State wide receiver who punched out starting quarterback Matt McGloin on December 14, will not join Penn State for its TicketCity Bowl game against Houston. Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley told reporters on Tuesday that Drake, a sophomore, was staying home for "personal reasons."
Drake will not be charged for his role in the fight between him and McGloin, though a police report was filed after the incident. McGloin reportedly suffered a seizure and a concussion after being hit in the head during the scuffle, and he was hospitalized briefly after the fight. McGloin, who later took reponsibility for the fight, is with the team in Dallas, but he has not practiced since the fight and was evaluated by physicians on Tuesday. The TicketCity Bowl will be held January 2.
The other Penn State players who are missing the TicketCity Bowl are sophomore WR Shawney Kersey, who is also missing the game for "personal reasons," and two academic casualties: redshirt freshman QB Paul Jones, who has been academically ineligible all year, and junior cornerback Derrick Thomas, who collected four tackles in eight games of backup play this season.
Drake had five catches for 102 yards and one touchdown this season, while Kersey had five catches for 108 yards.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the weekend we learned that Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin got into a fight with wide receiver Curtis Drake, and that the fight had some scary consequences. Not only was McGloin knocked unconscious during the fight, but he also suffered a seizure and had to be hospitalized for a brief period.
McGloin has since returned to the team, and on Monday he took full responsibility for the fight with Drake.
"I'm willing to take full responsibility -- it was my fault," McGloin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I started it, but as a quarterback for this university, I should be held to a higher standard. It should not have happened. I should've walked away from it.
"It was just two guys who are emotional about the game, who got into an argument."
McGloin said that the fight consisted of a few punches being exchanged, and that he slipped and hit his head on the concrete floor, which knocked him unconcious. McGloin also said that he had yet to speak to Drake since the incident.
As for how this will affect Penn State in its bowl game, McGloin has not yet been cleared to practice and failed a concussion test on Sunday. Interim head coach Tom Bradley said both players will face internal discipline, but also that he doesn't plan on naming a starter at quarterback before the bowl game. Penn State's other option is Rob Bolden, but Bolden is in a bit of hot water himself.
According to Bradley, Bolden was part of a "prank gone awry" and was cited for stealing a bottle of Gatorade from a convenience store on Friday. Though Bradley also said that Bolden's incident won't have any effect on his playing time.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 7:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
There hasn't exactly been a lot of good news about the Penn State football program in recent months, and the program got a bit more on Saturday. There are multiple reports coming out of State College that quarterback Matt McGloin got into a fight with receiver Curtis Drake following practice on Saturday. A fight that ended with McGloin being knocked out cold.
The details of what happened or what caused the fight are still sketchy at this point, but apparently there was a heated exchange during practice, and when Drake approached McGloin in the locker room after practice, things went downhill. Police were called to the scene to investigate afterward.
Making things even scarier, McGloin's father told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his son suffered a seizure and a possible concussion. McGloin was treated at Mount Nittany Medical Center and has since returned home.
Penn State is scheduled to play Houston in the Ticketcity Bowl on January 2nd.
Here's the official statement released by Penn State, in full:
Posted on: March 28, 2011 2:26 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While coaches across the country generally hope that spring practice will help give them a better idea of how their team will shape up in the coming season, most coaches will tell you that instead of solving position battles, the thing they want the most from the spring is for every player to come out the other end healthy. Or, at the very least, with only minor injuries that will heal long before games start. Which means that there are some not-so-happy coaches in Happy Valley these days.
Penn State has already lost wide receiver Curtis Drake for the entire spring thanks to a broken tibia -- the second year in a row Drake has suffered such an injury -- though it's possible that he'll be back in time for the season. The same likely cannot be said for defensive end Pete Massaro. Massaro suffered a knee injury on Friday, and the school announced on Monday that he's torn the ACL in his left knee and his season is over.
It's a big blow to the Nittany Lions, as the team has already lost Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore for the spring, leaving the defensive line rather thin at the moment. What makes matters even worse is that Massaro was one of the most productive defensive ends Penn State had in 2010. Massaro started the last 11 games of the year, making 37 tackles along the way, including 8 tackles for a loss. He also had 3.5 sacks.
This is the second time the redshirt junior has suffered an ACL tear, tearing the ligament in his right knee during the Blue-White spring game in 2009. That injury cost him the season as well.