No reason to nitpick so far
We love to nitpick in sports. When all else fails, let’s just find something to complain about.
But here’s a nifty little idea: Let’s not.
Not when it comes to Penn State’s 3-0 start, during which the Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents, 141-14.
The belief here is that PSU did indeed maximize its non-conference schedule and is in very good shape heading into Big Ten play.
Does that mean everything went perfectly and there were no issues at all? Absolutely not. The Lions still have things to work on, of course, and there were times during the first three games when a play or two here and there didn’t quite look right.
One of the biggest things people might point to is some perceived notion of a struggling running game. Saquon Barkley had 47 yards on 10 carries against Georgia State, so clearly he and the offensive line must have had a tough night.
I just don’t really see it that way. Georgia State came in hell-bent on preventing Barkley from gashing them on the ground, and its defense loaded up on every play to stop that from happening.
So the Lions destroyed the Panthers in every other facet, getting touchdowns from eight different players.
Pick your poison. Pick your poison. Pick your poison. Keep repeating it and make sure to understand exactly what it means, because it will be the mantra of this PSU offense all season.
If teams want to focus entirely on Barkley running the ball, go right ahead. Penn State can still win and win big because of its plethora of weapons, and Barkley’s ability to be a huge factor catching the ball will enable him to continue to impact games.
Time of possession has been terribly lopsided, with opponents holding the ball for more than 35 minutes per game.
So what? Penn State scores quickly, and it rotates a ton of defensive players in and out of games, so time of possession is a totally useless stat. Georgia State won TOP, 38.47 to 21:13, and yet lost 56-0. I rest my case.
Penn State didn’t beat Pitt as badly as it should have, or anywhere near as badly as Oklahoma State did. Eh.
Trace McSorley missed 4-5 wide-open throws that he normally hits, and if he had connected, that final would have been much worse than 33-14. No need to overanalyze it.
Look, PSU played two lousy teams and a Pitt squad that might not be very good. Despite what James Franklin wants, it’s harder to get up for those kinds of teams.
Once the Lions face better opponents, their competitive juices will get flowing and they’ll be more focused on playing better all around. They’ll never be perfect, so of course, the nitpicking will never stop.
Giger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.