Penn State -- Early Thoughts?

Submitted by MGlobules on October 7th, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Just noticed that Mark Snyder has some comments about the upcoming game against PSU up at our friends the Free Press, and got to wondering what observations others have to make about the Nittany Lions. 

It looks like Penn State's defense got exposed a little against Indiana, and we all know that they are down. But I assume a fairly stiff test and a pretty full house for a game between these two traditional powers this week. 

Snyder notes that establishing Funchess makes us less one-dimensional in the passing game, but that the run game, while better, has yet to really establish itself as a serious threat. He also observers that Minnesota's QB showed we may be vulnerable up the middle on defense (though Leidner was tough, and only needed to fall forward a few yards to get positive yardage against us, from what I observed).

I have not watched PSU play, but am itching to start obtaining a fix on next Saturday. Any ideas about how we stack up in these areas against PSU, on how it may go more generally against them?



October 7th, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

This is likely Penn State's biggest home game of the year and the place will be loud. Devin will commit some turnovers that causes every to go on suicide watch. This just feels like a game where we should win, but the road + crowd makes it such that we struggle


October 7th, 2013 at 12:21 PM ^

Preliminary matchup stats, courtesy of TeamRankings. They have Michigan as the slight favorite in this one:

Michigan Penn St.
Yards/Play 6.0   5.6
Points/Play 0.588   0.392
Rush Play % 60.30%   50.62%
Pass Play % 39.70%   49.38%
Completion % 60.48%   59.89%
3D Conv % 53.73%   29.73%
RZ Scoring % 90.91%   94.44%
Michigan Penn St.
Opp Yards/Play 4.5   4.6
Opp Points/Play 0.288   0.289
Opp Completion % 53.01%   56.89%
Opp 3D Conv % 41.10%   29.49%
Opp RZ Scoring % 73.33%   85.71%



October 7th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

unpracticed eye, than I would like. We'll find out over the next two weeks whether Akron and CT were outliers and whether we're better than those indicate. 

I'll say one thing--next Sat. is about as good a litmus for the rest of the season as one could hope for. Beat PSU fairly convincingly and we can all finally calm down a bit more. 


October 7th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

I think Michigan has a good chance if they hang onto the football.  PSU's defense isn't as good as it usually is, and their offense is seemingly mediocre at best (though they have a very good receiver). 

I hate to say it, but I can pretty easily imagine Michigan losing any of the games they have left on the schedule.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

Indiana, actually ran quite a bit on PSU, maybe this happened as it was a change up that they didn't expect <shrugs>. If Michigan can win the turnover battle we can win this game. I think Hackenberg is a good QB, but he is still a freshmen. I think mixing up a few  blitzes and putting pressure on him will cause PSU's offense to stumble.



October 7th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

but I feel the same. It has very little to do with the 2 bad games this year as much as this team having that feeling of not having the "it" factor (sounds so stupid). It's just that it seems like every team plays their best game against us or has a kid that goes out of his mind for one game in his career and it's against us, going back a handful of years. Team/player will be crap the weeks before and after but life him up against UM and watch out lol. In all seriousness, I could see us winning big and I can see Hackenberg looking like Peyton Manning out there. I'm just surely staying to lose faith in our offensive staff. I watch offenses so simple and so effective being ran well against good and poor teams in cfb, with players you've never heard of and we have 4-5 star kids that just can't seem to get it going with consistency. Imo, it's the staff more than the kids. In no sport is coaching more valuable to success than cfb and we have guys running routes that make no sense, a QB that seems less comfortable than last year, an OL made up of two NFL caliber OTs, a RS FR 5 star, a RS SO 4 star and a walk on that would have gotten good offers if he played more and yet they can't gel to get a yard when the opposition knows it's coming and we need it. Even against minny, uconn, etc. It took a season and 4 games for the staff to think to put Funchess outside more, ffs. I'm just officially in the "losing confidence in the offensive staff" boat. Not calling for heads but losing confidence. So, how do we stack up against psu? Depends on which team and staff shows up.


October 7th, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

Without selling out and leaving another area/player open for O'Brien to exploit .... we will be successful if Hackenburg to Robinson is contained (may not be stopped, but success will be in holding this pair to below average performance).  Fortunately Hackenburg is not mobile so that gives us a breather in that department. 

PSU is showing some of the weaknesses expected by the gutting from the NCAA unfortunately.  Great coach and team but they are getting a little thin in depth.

BTW - Robinson is a high school teamate of Ross  (Orchard Lake St. Mary).


October 7th, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

Yeah, 40% of PSU's completions last week were caught by Robinson. If we can double him and/or blitz from the not-him side, we could be in good shape. When Hackenberg is pressured, he looks for Robinson, so if we can send a corner blitz from the other side, he'll be forced to find the open guy, which is tough for a frosh QB.


October 7th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

After last week we saw what the Gophers TE did to us on some plays so that is a concern for me after Robinson. Also their RB is a beast and doesnt go down easy.  This will be a tough game for us no doubt.


October 7th, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Their RB is a big kid (who we recruited as a LB) but they aren't a very good run team, and they didn't really try to establish the run at all against Indiana despite them having a pretty bad DL. PSU threw it 55 times compared to 38 runs, but it was really worse than that because 6 of those runs were by Hackenberg, all of which were essentially sacks (his long run was 2 yards). Assuming those were all called pass plays, that's 61 pass plays compared to 32 run plays.

So we'll be in a nickel almost all game. At least we won't feel Pipkins's absence since he would barely be on the field.


October 7th, 2013 at 12:34 PM ^

I'm not sure that there are a lot of takeaways from Penn State's game against Indiana, unfortunately. They play such a different offense than us, so any struggles that Penn State revealed on Saturday may not be repeatable for our offense.

On defense it's going to be interesting to see what Mattison does. Unfortunately I see him playing a lot of two deep to prevent Allen Robinson from destroying us in the long game, so we'll have to see if Penn State can sustain long drives. I see them scoring somewhere in the low to mid 20's, so we just have to get above that.

Wee-Bey Brice

October 7th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

They are coming off a bad loss, first ever to Indiana, and getting a hated rival at home for a white out game. I think they'll be playing to prove they don't suck and the crowd will be behind them. We need to suck the air out of the building early. If we come out swinging early I believe they'll lay down but if we start slow we are in trouble

Steve in PA

October 7th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^


PSU press has been trying to generate a rivalry since they joined the league.  Until RR Michigan owned PSU and was something like 11-1 or 10-2 against them.  The closest thing they had to a rivalry was Little Brother and that was clearly imagined.

Just last summer the PSU press was writing glowing articles about Rutgers and Maryland joining the B1G because maybe next of those schools by geography could be a rival.  Right now PSU is the sorta ugly, but not repulsive, girl nobody wants to date but you don't mid being friends with.

One item regarding the "Rivalry" that PSU can point to is being the final nail that got RR fired.  Many people, including myself, got off that bandwagon after the debacle of last visit to State College.

If Michigan plays like they are capable and Turnover Santa doesn't have a striped helmet Michigan should win by a relatively comfortable margin.






October 7th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

That 2010 game was brutal.  Going in, I really thought it could be the turning point for RR (in a good way) . . . I thought the D would come off the bye week and start to show some life against a depleted PSU offense.  And then that happened.  


Mr. Yost

October 7th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

Only N'Western and Ohio worry me. I said that from Day 1, people called NW overrated, but I think they're more than legit.

Saturday was a step in the right direction. Hopefully we can continue to improve in all facets and play to our potential.

Wolverines Dominate

October 7th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

I won't click the Free Press link because they suck at life, but clearly M is the better team. Now what worries me is their insane home field advantage. If Devin had difficulty at UConn at night, imagine what MIGHT happen this weekend at one of the largest stadiums in the country.

One Inch Woody…

October 7th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Hackenburg, like every other new starter is prone to making bad decisions when he feels he has too much time in the pocket. Right now, he's the type of quarterback that likes having his first or second read open and struggles when receivers start running the "get open" play. If there ever was a game to start playing 2 man under coverage, it's this one.

Their secondary is actually not that bad this year but their left side of their defensive line is weak and at least from what I saw, UCF busted many positive runs on that side of the line.

All in all, I think Michigan's offense needs to build a useful play action game to really score against Penn State. The defense should be okay provided that the coverage holds up.

Cold War

October 7th, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

Anyone comforted by the Indiana game needs to remember Akron and UConn. Hackenburg was no worse than Devin has been at times. It's a pick 'em at best.


October 7th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

is a true Frosh, this will be his biggest game of the season and he's not terribly mobile. This is where Mattison needs to dial up his exotic blitzes and throw a bunch of fake blitzes PSU's way to confuse their QB.


October 7th, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

I hate to say it but I feel Gardner's one game turnover-free streak breaking Saturday evening. Later game, white out, loud fans... That's good for a mistake on Gardner's part. 

That said, Michigan covers.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

I watched Penn State's game against Central Florida. CFU destroyed their defense all night long. The final score would not have been as close as it was had CFU not snapped the ball 15 feet over the punter's head late in the game giving PSU the ball at the 8 yard line.

I saw a good chunk of their game against Indiana and again, their defense played awful. And IU was shockingly efficient on offense.

Hackenburg is inconsistent. Not surprising since he is a freshman, but he does have his moments. You just get that feeling he'll play much better with a home night crowd. Once again, I see a meh team playing good against Michigan and then going back to sucking the following week.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

I dont see us winning this one. PSU will be on a mission. We will be on the road. That road leads to a big, tough, uncomfortable venue. Given recent performances, I just dont think we are there yet. It will be a close game, but I think PSU gets this one. Of course, I hope I am wrong.