Although Akron lost on Saturday, it wasn't all bad. Here are some quick hits on the game and some thoughts moving forward.
1. The offensive line wasn't as bad as the numbers suggest. Kyle Pohl felt the pressure all day and was sacked four times by the Nittany Lions defense. However, I don't think the blame is to be put on the offensive line. Penn State rarely sent only four rushers and the running backs were tasked with making key blocks. The Zips' receivers needed to adjust to get open quicker and Pohl needed to get rid of the ball quicker knowing he would be constantly getting pressured. The positive out of this is there were three sacks in the first quarter, one in the second, and zero in the second half. It seems the coaching staff adjusted accordingly and were effective in helping Pohl and the line handle the pressure.
2. Kyle Pohl deserved more than three points. Pohl's numbers aren't great either and part of the reason for that is the aforementioned pressure, but he definitely played better than the three points the Zips put on the board. Pohl came out firing in the first quarter starting 4-for-4 for 56 yards which led to a first and goal from the seven-yard line. A few miscues and a missed field goal later and the Zips were left with zero points. There were a few crucial drive-killing drops from the receivers and a fourth quarter drive that stalled at the 13 yard line. The red zone offense clearly needs some work, but I thought the Zips moved the ball decently against a solid defense that put the pressure on all day.
3. The defense exceeded all expectations. I really thought Christian Hackenberg was going to have a field day with the inexperienced Zips defensive backs and I'm glad I was mostly wrong. Hackenberg still finished with 319 yards and three touchdowns, but the Zips came up with two interceptions that really kept them in the game. Another blunder from the Nittany Lions led to a fumble recovery by the Zips and created this great moment.
4. The Zips might start the season 1-3. And that's okay. The Zips are 1-1 and their next two games will be quite the tall task. They host the Marshall Thundering Herd on September 20th who rank second in the SB Nation underdog poll. The Herd have a dark horse Heisman candidate in Rakeem Cato and the team is on the brink of the top 25 in polls. The Zips will also travel to Pittsburgh on September 27th to take on the Panthers. The ACC squad started the season off 2-0 with wins over Delaware and Boston College. Running back James Conner might turn into another dark horse Heisman candidate if he keeps these stats up. He has rushed for 367 yards and five touchdowns on the season already. I don't think these games will be blowouts, but these are two very tough opponents and stealing a win from one of these two is gravy.
5. The MAC East is wide open. The MAC East went 1-6 on Saturday with the sole win being Bowling Green over VMI. Who is the favorite in this conference? Since star quarterback Matt Johnson went down for Bowling Green, no team has really stepped up as the front runner. Buffalo looked pretty awful against Army in the early goings before an improbable late surge to make the game close. Ohio didn't look much better and struggled to find any sort of offense against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday. Bowling Green looked strong on Saturday against VMI, but they did take a beatdown in week one against Western Kentucky even with Matt Johnson. So the Zips might start 1-3, but conference play is when the real fun begins and any of these MAC teams will separate from the pack to become the true front runner.
6. Terry Bowden's beautiful locks. If we're being honest, this is the only takeaway.
What happened to Terry Bowden's hair? He's not a blond. Did I miss something? #FrostedTips pic.twitter.com/S1xgQ2Nyel— Sean Adams (@thatsean) September 6, 2014