Alabama vs. Penn State: 3 Thoughts the Day After

Damon YoungCorrespondent IISeptember 11, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Dre Kirkpatrick #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with teammates Vinnie Sunseri #3 and Will Lowery #29 after causing a fumble against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half at Beaver Stadium on September 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In 2010 Alabama slammed on the gas and ran over Penn State, cruising to a 24-3 victory. This time around the Crimson Tide methodically dismantled an improved PSU with a 27-11 victory in State College. So what can we take away from this game?


QB Questions Answered

Both teams had questions at quarterback coming into the contest, but I think Alabama and Penn State found solid answers Saturday in Beaver Stadium. The question now is which team will take those answers and move on.

I don’t think there is any question that AJ McCarron solidified himself as the starter for Alabama. He played with poise and precision in a hostile road environment making some big throws and NOT making any crucial errors. His patience in the pocket showed a vast improvement from Week 1 against Kent State where he seemed to force a number of throws. Keep in mind, he did this without the benefit of a dominate run game.

Penn State loaded up to shut down Alabama’s ground attack putting it squarely on AJ’s shoulders and he made the plays to loosen them up.

As for PSU, it was apparent to me that Rob Bolden is the superior quarterback. I find it completely idiotic that Penn State decided to continue with its QB merry-go-round in such a crucial contest. Bolden seemed to find some rhythm on the opening drive and may have continued if left in. Yes, he looked bad at times, but Alabama’s defense does that to a lot of quarterbacks. As long as PSU goes with two signal callers, they’ll have none.



The Penn State sideline seems like the Bermuda Triangle of play-calling and adjustments. Never in my life have I seen a team burn all three of their timeouts on the opening drive of a football game. What makes that doubly bad is that most opening drives are scripted. Teams know what they want to run, yet with every cut away to a clueless looking Paterno in the booth or the chaotic scene on the Nittany Lion sideline, PSU seemed as if they had no idea what to do next.

Clearly there is a disconnect amongst the staff and it shows through with their lack of adjustments and game time decisions. So many times Penn State stays vanilla costing them big plays and big play opportunities, not to mention the baffling decision to continue with a two-quarterback system. Juxtapose that with Alabama’s decision to go with McCarron, despite his inexperience. He stayed in there, developing a confidence as the game went on and it paid dividends in front of the “white out” and will pay even more down the road.


Programs Heading in Opposite Directions

Once upon a time, Penn State and Alabama would meet on the gridiron as elite equals. Two power programs butting heads in some of college football’s most classic moments.

Not so much today.

The divide between the programs has never been more evident.

Alabama, just four years ago, was much like Penn State. They were wandering around the mid-level, slumping power programs of the past. Lost, with no identity, Alabama made the bold move to bring in Nick Saban and the results speak for themselves.

Penn State is now wandering. Sure, there will be a 10-win season here or there as PSU is still going to assemble enough talent at times to pull that off, but is that where one of college football’s blue bloods should be?

Sadly, Penn State is being held hostage by the same person responsible for building the empire. Until Joe Paterno steps down the Nittany Lions will continue to limp around as a middle of the pack Big 10 team. It’s a sad situation but a real one, and as much as we all respect Paterno you have to wonder when enough will be enough?

Whenever that day comes Penn State needs to be ready. Ready to go out and bring someone in that will streamline the vision of the football program and get it going in the right direction. Until then, PSU fans can get used to seven-win seasons.