For having just watched Penn State win its first home game of the season, the fans leaving the stadium weren’t quite as jubilant as one might have expected.
“It was a boring game,” Wilkes-Barre resident Desiree Kaspriski says. “At one point, someone sitting in font of me said it was like watching grass grow.”
Her fiancé, Joe Gubitoso, agreed and began a list of complaints that was so through and instant, it might have seemed rehearsed: there was no rushing game, they could barely move the ball down the field and quarterback Christian Hackenberg made a number of miscalculated throws.
He says, ironically, that Penn State played better last week against the University of Central Florida, an opponent that many consider to be a much tougher team to beat than the Akron Zips. Gubitoso thinks that – though they still won by 21-3 – perhaps they underestimated Saturday’s opponent, leading to a sluggish performance.
Penn State fan Mike McDermott, though happy for the win, says that the Nittany Lions need to work on their fundamentals. The offense needs to be quicker, and the blocks longer, he says.
“They’re still developing, and they still have a lot of things to work on,” McDermott says. “If they had played anyone of substance, it would be a sad day in Happy Valley.”
Owen Dalton, a senior at Penn State, says none of these complaints dampened the enthusiasm of the crowd. Each successful play still prompted crazed cheering, and each setback prompted loud groans. The defense, he says, was the real star of the game, and prompted the loudest and most enthusiastic reactions from the crowd.
“We rallied around the defense,” Dalton says. “They really kept us in the game, because the offense wasn’t there at all.”
Fellow student Alex Houpt, a sophomore, agreed, saying the defense “looked sharp” on the field of Beaver Stadium. He says, under the right circumstances, he the Nittany Lions could’ve easily led the game by 20 points, as opposed to the seven point lead they held for much of the game.
“Everyone still needs work, but that’s okay,” Houpt says. “It’s a young offensive line with young receivers and a new coach. They’re going to be a little rusty.”
Coach James Franklin – now with two wins after last week's stunning game in Dublin – was met with near-universal approval by the crowd. As Houpt puts it, “everyone loves him – the fans, the players, the alumni.”
“Franklin has two wins under his belt, and at the end of the day that’s what counts,” McDermott says. “This bodes well for him.”
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