Penn State head coach James Franklin is facing many questions about his team after the Nittany LKions opened the new season the program’s first loss to Temple since 1941. Penn State’s offensive line was tissue-paper thin against the Owls, allowing 10 sacks when all was said and done and the clock finally showed triple zeroes Saturday. Apparently it took just one sack to break the confidence of Penn State’s offense.
This all went down in the city of brotherly love, and Penn State was not mentally prepared to fight back like Rocky Balboa. Penn State was more Glass Joe than The Italian Stallion.
In his Tuesday press conference with the beat reporters, Franklin said Penn State lost its confidence on the sideline after Temple recorded its first sack of Christian Hackenberg. Franklin suggested the team and fans need to remain calm and keep a positive vibe going, as difficult as that may be at this early juncture following that performance on Saturday. Offensive coordinator John Donovan is already under a microscope in Happy Valley, with Franklin saying his coordinator is being evaluated along with everything else within the program. Penn State’s playcalling was suspect last fall and it got off to another rough start in 2015. Things started well but as Temple gained control of the game and established a confidence level Penn State was unable to match, Penn State’s playcalling seemed to play to Temple’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Running east-west and needing too much time for a play to develop never allowed Penn State’s offense to get back in the swing of things. The offensive line can take plenty of blame for this, although there was plenty of blame to spread around.
Penn State allowed 41 sacks on Hackenberg last season. The Nittany Lions seemed to add some depth to the line this offseason with the additions of Stanford graduate transfer Kevin Reihner and JUCO transfer Paris Palmer, and things actually started well for the Nittany Lions in the first quarter. Penn State’s running game had an early impact as Penn State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but it was all Temple from that point on. Temple’s solid defense lived up to some of the preseason hype and showed why the Owls could be a contender in the American Athletic Conference. Temple will have to keep that intensity up when the Owls travel to Cincinnati this weekend. The Bearcats are the preseason favorite in the American. If Temple can get out of there with a win, the Owls should feel extra confident the rest fo the way.
Penn State will be getting ready to host Buffalo, but not before putting the Temple loss to bed. Penn State’s team captains used a shovel to bury the Temple game tape on the practice field.