If the weekly Penn State football radio show measures the fans’ feelings, then a good portion of Nittany Nation is alarmed about the continuing struggles of the offense as the Lions enter their eighth game of the season Saturday night at Northwestern.
Asked via e-mail Thursday why mental mistakes continue and turn each game into an adventure, head coach Joe Paterno said opponents have played well against his team, yet the Lions have done “a pretty good job.”
“Any time you make a mistake, you wonder why you can’t eliminate them,” he said. “We’ve made some mistakes, maybe not as many as the press has highlighted. It’s hard for me to agree with that. Yet I know there’s some truth to it.”
Paterno also said that he feels his coaches made the right adjustments to what the opponent is doing defensively.
“A lot of times we’re not that bad,” he said. “But sometimes we have penalties in key spots or we’re not doing what we need to do in the red zone to be more productive offensively.”
Paterno said the offense “probably spends as much time on (reverses) as anything in our offense” but the attempts to run that play did not work last week against Purdue. He added some of the problem may be the fact “we’ve been successful with them through the years and people practice against them.”
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall heard some harsher questioning from callers wondering why the team doesn’t throw more over the middle or to the tight end, why screen passes don’t work as well as they used to, and if a two-quarterback system hurts in recruiting future quarterbacks.
Hall said the Lions’ quarterbacks have to go through their reads before finding the open man or the tight end, and that coverages in the secondary play a key role. He said the timing just hasn’t been there to execute the screen pass successfully.
“We just haven’t had what it’s taken so far,” he said regarding the screen pass. “But we are working very hard on it and hopefully we’ll be better with it this week.”
Hall said it “really hasn’t crossed our mind” that attracting quality quarterbacks would be affected by the continuing revolving door present this season.
“I don’t think that will hurt us one bit,” he said.
Hall also took issue with a suggestion that Rob Bolden, who has started all seven games to date, doesn’t get much playing time at quarterback after Penn State’s initial drive. He brought up the Temple game, where Bolden led the drive to the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, but not the fact that Matt McGloin has seen more playing time in the three Big Ten games.
“It’s a feel along with Joe, Jay (Paterno) and the rest of us, who has the hot hand and who’s moving the club,” he said. “That’s the way we’ve been on this and that’s the way we’ll keep on going.”