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Penn State Football: Consistency The Challenge As Nittany Lions Head Into Off Week

by on September 14, 2019 8:50 PM

Sports are really about two things: talent and execution. 

Sometimes you can get away with just one, but if you have both you'll win far more often than not.

And in a lot of ways that's the challenge Penn State football faces right now. It's not changing the scheme, it's not changing the quarterback or a handful of other philosophical tweaks. Sure those things all have to be taken into account, but the overarching obstacle, especially with a young team is the much simpler than that.

It's taking the talent, and having that talent doing its job over and over again.

For example, Penn State'e second drive of the third quarter in Saturday's win over Pitt, a 13-play, 88-yard drive that pounded the ball and completed timely passes en route to the Nittany Lions scoring what would eventually be the game-winning points. if Penn State starts games like that it will win most of them, you know the Nittany Lions can do it, but the question in the early portion of the season has been if they will.

Similarly, with the ball in their hands and 3:15 to go in the fourth quarter, Penn State ran six plays and gave Pitt the ball back with a chance to tie [and theoretically win] the game. Some of that is play calling, some of it is good defense and some of it is just how the game works out, but the general concept is the same: you execute and you win.

Against Buffalo it was a similar story, a sluggish first half where the Bison executed and took it to the Nittany Lions. Then in the second half things started to click for Penn State and the blowout was on. It doesn't matter if KJ Hamler is faster than everyone else if you can't get him the ball.

So the challenge really is a single word: consistency.

That can be challenging with a young team because things are new for them, experiences are unique, and there isn't a wealth of moments to remember and lean on. Certainly young players can succeed right out of the gates, but the Day 1 game-changers are few and far between for a reason.

What's the obstacle to becoming consistent? It depends who you ask.

"I think it's just going back to attention to detail. In certain games when there is trash-talking and certain things going on it kind of gets you off your groove, I think at points it can get you away from the attention to detail. We've just got to stay consistent with that and focus on the details the whole game." - Tight End Pat Freiermuth.

"I think repetition. Me and Cliff throw a lot after practice, usually me and him, but I think we need to get everybody, all there receivers instead of me and just the starters and stuff like that. So he has a feel for us, when we're tired, how do we run when we're tired? How do we move? Stuff like that. I think as a group we need to go to practice and get our reputations more." - Receiver KJ Hamler

"I think it's your mindset, I think it's guys letting old plays affect newer plays, and I feel like guys stressing or being moody. I think your mindset is key to it all" - Linebacker Cam Brown

"Just everyone doing their job each and every play. You can't have 10 guys one snap doing their job and one guy not. It needs to be all 11 every play and I think that's something we got better at in the second half." - Safety Garrett Taylor

Penn State will have two weeks of practice to continue to find that consistency before traveling to Maryland to face the Terrapins. From there an increasingly challenging slate of Big Ten games will provide the Nittany Lions with plenty of chances to prove that they are capable of a full 60 minutes of play.

Until then, they will lean on their ability to adjust and making the most of the moments when talent, coaching and execution meet.

Only time will tell if those moments are enough to win.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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