- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
The good and the bad from Penn State's 34-9 win over Purdue on Saturday:
1. Third-down defense. On the Boilermakers' first 12 attempts, they managed just one conversion. Purdue went to the air 11 times on those third downs, but a combination of tight zone coverage and a nice pass-rush completely caught Purdue by surprise. Robert Marve threw six incompletions on those third downs, was sacked once and tossed three completions short of the first-down marker. This has sometimes been a weakness for Penn State's defense, but it was the main reason Saturday the Lions were able to overcome a slow start.
2. Strong rushing game. Against a tough interior, the Killer Z's tried rushing outside of the guards a little more often as opposed to between them -- and saw a lot of success. Zach Zwinak averaged 6.4 yards a carry and wasn't once tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Michael Zordich saw more carries near the goal-line and came away with a pair of touchdowns. The rushing game added balance to this offense and bounced back in a big way after a lackluster performance last week.
3. Emergence of a No. 2 wide receiver. Without Matt McGloin's No. 2 target, tight end Kyle Carter, someone needed to step up -- and that player just happened to be Brandon Moseby-Felder. The redshirt junior has played an increasing role in the passing game every week. It's actually been pretty easy to spot the trend: He went from 34 yards to 60, 70 and now 129. This was a career game for Moseby-Felder and showed that fans can expect to see more of him as the season progresses. For the first time all year, McGloin might have a clear No. 3 target behind Allen Robinson and Carter.
1. Very slow start. Penn State ended up dominating, but it certainly didn't appear as if that would be the case in the beginning. In the first quarter, it showed some bad kickoff coverage -- and the offense seemed especially sluggish. Zwinak dropped a pass, Trevor Williams ran a route short, the line struggled picking up the blitz, and McGloin tossed some bad passes -- including a critical one on a 4th-and-1 play. Against better teams, starts like this could be the difference between a win and a loss.
2. Dropped interception(s). Safety Jake Fagnano dropped an easy interception early in the game, something that's become a discouraging trend for the Nittany Lions. Adrian Amos had a more-difficult diving attempt later in the game and another ball floated about a foot over Gerald Hodges' outstretched arms in the second half. Amos and Hodges could be excused there, but Fagnano's effort reinforced this as a season-long theme for Penn State. The Lions played excellent defense all game, but John Butler definitely needs to work on the hands of this secondary.
3. Increased number of penalties. Another unwelcome trend seems to involve those yellow flags. In the first six games, PSU was called for an average of just four penalties for 40 yards. But that's changed in these last three games, and Saturday was yet another example. Penn State was called for eight penalties for 75 yards against Purdue. That means, in the last three games, its penalty average has nearly doubled from the beginning of the season (to eight flags, 77 yards). The Nittany Lions need to show more discipline here.
13dMitch Sherman and Brian Bennett