Following is Neil Rudel's report card from Penn State's 30-14 loss to Houston on Monday in the TicketCity Bowl:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback DBolden (7-26-137) threw a few decent deep balls, and had a couple dropped, but suffered three picks and fumbled twice. His inability to complete screens and short passes is maddening.
Running back CGreen (15-63) capped a solid second half to the season by running hard and gaining yards after contact. Longest gain for Redd (14-55) was 11 yards before a second-half knee injury.
Offensive line C-Unit allowed two sacks, and the Lions' defense needed more ball control to keep Houston's offense off the field.
Wide receiver C-Moye was shut out - his second-quarter drop didn't help - but no wideout caught more than two passes (Smith). Brown made good catch on 69-yard catch-and-run for TD. Belton (6-38) averaged 6.3 in wildcat.
Tight end CHaplea's 12-yarder was only catch. TEs caught 15 passes in 13 games. Will be interesting if new coach re-emphasizes the position.
Offensive coaching D Third-and-1 early, against a vulnerable running defense, shouldn't the Lions have stayed with the run rather than calling for Bolden to hit Zordich in the flat? (Pass sailed high.) And another reverse failed.
Defensive line C-Keenum dropped back 69 times (a record number of attempts for PSU opponents) and was only sacked twice. Bradley admitted Still (no tackles) has been hurting for past couple of games.
Linebacker CStupar (12 tackles) and Hodges (9) led the way, but the middle seemed awfully wide open and couldn't cope with Houston's delayed crosses. Fortt a bright spot with two TFLs in limited duty. Carson absent vs. passing offense.
Secondary FWillis and Astorino were way out of position on long touchdown passes that broke the Lions' backs. Powell and Morris both had five stops and Lynn broke up a play in end zone.
Defensive coaching DEven when blitzes were called, Keenum was able to get rid of the ball so quickly that the Lion defenders were neutered. Should they have abandoned pass rush? Tough offense to go against when you see it so rarely.
Special teams FJeez did this unit fall apart. Three blocking in the back penalties on returns? When the Lions did cut it to 17-7, they promptly allowed a 39-yard kickoff return. Plus Fera, in a homecoming, had punts of 33, 31 and 24.
The other guy B+ With its no-huddle and race to the line, Houston runs the fastest-pace offense PSU ever faced. The Cougars snapped 85 plays but lost time of possession 32:11-27:49. Houston held up well defensively, too.
Officials BBig East crew really dldn't seem to be a factor. Both teams had six penalties for 55 yards. Back judge showed his arm by throwing flag 30 yards on face-mask penalty (vs. Stupar) that was waved off.
Atmosphere C-No idea why Cotton Bowl, other than hosting annual Oklahoma-Texas brawl, would need 25,000-seat addition in 2008 to bump attendance to 92,000. Attendance generously listed at 46,817. Press box, unprepared for large PSU contingent, ran out of forks.
Overall gradeD Final could have been much worse as Houston settled for five FG attempts. There was danger in playing since PSU was emotionally tattered. And that was before McGloin smashed his face into Drake's fist. At least the game and the season are now over.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.