Following is Neil Rudel's report card from Penn State's 24-3 loss to Alabama on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback C+ From a poise standpoint in a hostile environment, Bolden did pretty well. Two picks could have been five. Better decision-making and touch will come in time. Where's Newsome 3-4 times in Wildcat?
Running backs C Royster had one good run, a determined 11-yarder in the third quarter. Powell fumble crippling. Silas Redas (5-26) hits hole quickly. No carries or catches for Suhey.
Offensive line C+ Didn't allow any sacks and blocked for the run better in the second half, but holes are not big enough. Gs Pannell and Troutman still alternating. Troutman's false start lone penalty.
Receivers B Devon Smith (5-47) more involved; Moye (3-69) continues to impress, and Shawney Kersey looked good on reverse; cool name, too. Zug, still catchless, had bad drop over middle.
Tight end C Position doesn't have a catch this season, though Bolden was incomplete to Gilliam a couple of times. Absence of Szczerba limiting receiving options.
Offensive coaching C Thought Nits should have run in first quarter and set up field goal for 7-3 deficit, getting points early, and instead got Bolden's first pick. Liked the involvement of Smith. Need to roll Bolden more.
Defensive line D Richardson danced by tacklers repeatedly as Lions searched for answers, trying Massaro (59) and Tarry (93) behind regulars. Massaro and Still made sacks. Hill (47) led with seven stops.
Linebacker C- Mauti started for Stupar. Unit missed Gerald Hodges, who hurt his foot on the game's first place while covering kickoff. Colasanti missed multiple open tackles. Matadorish. .
Secondary D Too many wide-open receivers, particularly over the middle in the first half. Safety Sukay, who let Bama tight end Dial behind him for a TD, having problems. Corners gave too much cushion. Thomas (5) used in nickel.
Defensive coaching D JoePa was upset with lack of intensity and this is the unit that annoyed him the most. Even after Bolden's interception at the Bama 4, defense could have pinned in the Tide. Instead, it allowed 96-yard drive. Game over.
Special teams B Wagner made a 36-yard field goal to avoid the shutout. Thought Nits could have scrapped harder for onside kick. Green looked good on kickoff returns (4-100).
The other guy A McElroy better than expected and has arsenal. Tide controlled game up front, could have made it worse and very well may win their second straight national title. Saban really has it going.
Officials C- Crew chief Dave Witvoet, the PSU nemesis who sparked JoePa's request of a league-wide investigation of officiating practices after 2002 robbery at Michigan, has nine lives. Confusion reigned after long fumble return.
Atmosphere A Between the music, the enthusiasm and the "Roll Tide," chants after first downs, this may be the best atmosphere in all of college football. Of course, the team does it share to stoke the fans.
Overall grade C- PSU played hard, evidenced by its great hustle to recover Powell's fumble 87 yards later, but it failed to capitalize, even with field goals, when it moved the ball. Watch for personnel moves these next two weeks.
Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He will respond to brief comments in Gameday.