Penn State flying high after OT win but lingering issues remain

It wasn’t against a ranked team, but there is no denying Saturday’s 29-26 OT win was monumental for Penn State.  It was a game and potentially a season that looked lost at halftime.  No offense, no energy, no life.  Then Trace McSorley stepped up, literally and figuratively.  The redshirt sophomore quarterback scrambled forward in the pocket and found Irvin Charles down the middle of the field.  Charles broke a tackle and scored his first career touchdown at Penn State.  Not only was it is first touchdown, it was his first career CATCH.

Talk about timing, talk about clutch.  The Charles play was just the first in a series of clutch plays from McSorley and the Nittany Lions.

-McSorley ran for a touchdown to tie the game at 20.

-Jordan Smith playing in place of the injured Christian Campbell intercepted a pass in the Redzone.

-Tyler Davis hit his 17th straight field goal to send the game to OT.

-Saquon Barkley scored the game winning touchdown on Penn State’s first offensive play of OT.

-McSorley made too many plays to list in between.

Players making plays.  Simple but something that has been missing from this season and much of James Franklin’s time at Penn State.  Have we been too hard on him and his staff?

First year defensive coordinator Brent Pry held Minnesota under thirty points for the first time this season…..with almost an entire defensive second team.  That deserves praise.  Joe Moorhead continuously calling read option plays that lose four yards and set up third and long doesn’t.  The Nittany Lions repeatedly coming out flat doesn’t speak well of Franklin either.  After the game he said he’d try something new at practice this week.  I’m anxious to see the results.

The schedule that looked relatively easy to start the season has gotten suddenly harder.  Maryland comes to town next week 4-0.  Their new coach D.J. Durkin is Jim Harbaugh’s former defensive coordinator.  Indiana just beat Michigan State.  All that points to again how big it was Saturday for Penn State to win.  Lose that game, they could have lost the season… for whatever going to a non New Years Six bowl game is worth.

As good as that win was, there’s really nothing that says Penn State can sustain it.  Through four games they absolutely cannot run the ball.  Saquon Barkley’s super human talents are the only reason they continue to try it.  McSorley has been clutch, but his best plays against Minnesota ALL came out of the framework of the offense.  Scrambles and pocket breakdowns led to every big play.  It’s fun to watch but hard to trust it.  If they sustain another injury on defense the whole house of cards could fall down.

I think regardless if the season goes south, James Franklin will get another year at Penn State.  Look at the potential openings around college football. LSU already….Texas, Oregon, USC, Auburn looming.  Now is not the time to look for another coach.  And yes they might already have the right guy to do it.  Saturday was a big step for Franklin as far as getting a memorable, impactful win.  The sanctions era still obviously makes it hard to evaluate him fairly.

He called the locker room afterwards a scene from the movie Soul Plane.  Penn State clearly flying high but their lingering issues could keep them grounded.  If they don’t get it patched up this season could end like another movie about transportation and travel….James Cameron’s classic…. Titanic.

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