PSU's offense helps Ohio State
Monday, November 01, 2004 BY BOB FLOUNDERS
Of The Patriot-News
Twenty quarters of football have passed since Penn State has held more than a two-point lead.
Think about that.
During the program's losing streak, now at five after Ohio State subdued PSU 21-10 Saturday in Columbus, the defense has permitted six touchdowns.
And that rotten egg of an offense has not been able to give it any kind of a margin to play with.
It's no surprise then, that Jim Tressel's Buckeyes employed a most unorthodox strategy to defeat Penn State (2-6, 0-5).
Keep the Lions' offense on the field.
The other team knows the longer it's on the field, the less chance there is of anything bad happening.
PSU kept the ball for 32:44, running 72 plays to Ohio State's 52.
And they had 21 points in the first half.
The difference was execution on Ohio State's part. And a lack of execution on the Lions' part.
Quarterback Michael Robinson threw two interceptions, one that snuffed out a scoring drive and another that was returned for a touchdown.
Two weeks ago, Iowa's defensive players brazenly suggested they knew PSU's offensive play-calls before the snap.
Saturday might have been more of the same.
Robinson looked in the direction of intended receiver Terrance Phillips all the way before throwing the ball right into arms of Buckeyes' defensive back Tyler Everett. His 24-yard interception return for a TD made it 14-0.
"We knew they were going to run something to our side," OSU corner Dustin Fox said.
"Ty was anticipating and he made a great play. All of the secondary made good plays today, even though a few players were dinged up."
PSU's pop-gun offense was so basic and easy to diagnose that the Buckeyes' defensive staff cut back on its gameplan as the contest unfolded.
OSU's front four just came off the ball and, with a little help from a few well-timed blitzes, whipped the PSU offensive line.
The Lions ran for 177 yards but gained just 3.5 yards per attempt.
Robinson was sacked three times and buried numerous others.
It was so bad that late in the game, with PSU down 11 and facing second and one at the Buckeyes' 32, the OSU pass rush forced Robinson to throw the ball backwards.
M-Rob was credited with a lateral, so the officials couldn't call intentional grounding.
Said Fox: "We had a lot of stuff in our packages but we went back to the drawing board and tried to make things simple. We wanted to let our guys make plays."
PSU tailback Tony Hunt, who ran for 85 yards and scored the Lions' only TD on a 3-yard run in the second quarter, saw good in the loss.
He must have had to look pretty hard to find it.
"We improved greatly today," Hunt said.
"Our line created good holes to run through and gave our quarterback Michael [Robinson] the time he needed to make his throws. I thought I played better by hitting the holes they created harder and faster."
And when PSU got close to the end zone, trailing by 14 with 9:31 left, Paterno strangely settled for a short field goal by kicker Robbie Gould.
The Lions faced fourth down at the OSU 3. They hadn't scored two touchdowns in a game since hammering lowly Central Florida in mid-September.
Yet Paterno decided to kick. Hmm.
"I was surprised that they decided to kick a field goal on fourth down," Buckeyes linebacker A.J. Hawks said.
"But I was glad that we were able to hold them to just three points."
BOB FLOUNDERS: 255-8181 or [email protected]