Morelli OnLion: Nearly a Temple of Doom

While I was sitting watching Saturday’s game with Temple, I could only think one thing: Are the Nits really going to lose to Temple? Temple? Really?

As it turned out, my concerns were calmed when Penn State went ahead late to post a not-so-pretty 14-10 win over the Owls at the Linc. It’s often said that a win is a win, but this certainly was an ugly win. Had it not been for Temple’s lousy QBs, the Lions probably would have been beaten on Saturday.

In today’s edition of Morelli OnLion,we’ll take a closer look at the squeaker against the Owls and look ahead to the final non-conference game of the year.

Let’s start with Temple

Almost a Temple of Doom

Penn State trailed the entire game Saturday before pulling out a late win over the Owls. Had it not been for the heroics of Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich, Penn State would be looking at 1-2 and limping into this week’s game with Eastern Michigan.

If there are couple of things we can take from Saturday’s it’s this: First of all, the quarterback rotation is not working. Head coach Joe Paterno and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno must pick a QB and stick with him. The wise thing to do would be to pick a starter and let him play most, if not all of the game against Eastern Michigan.

Give the QB at least three quarters and let the offense get in a rhythm. That way, the running backs are in sync, the line is in synch and most importantly, the QB and receivers can click. Clearly, the two-headed monster that is Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden is not working. Penn State enters Week Four as just one of three schools without a TD pass in the first three games.

Silas Redd finished under 100 yards last week. That will probably change against EMU.

Secondly, kicker Evan Lewis needs to head to the bench. He has been downright awful, hitting just 1 of 6 field goal attempts. It’s clear that Anthony Fera is in the doghouse, but if he’s punting and being used on kickoffs, why not on field goals when there are points on the line? That seems like common sense.

With Big Ten play looming, Penn State has to get the ship righted. This is the week to do that.

Two-Minute Drill: Temple

Game Balls to … Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich.

Although their names and numbers aren’t big on the stat sheet, Mauti had a key interception that gave the Lions the ball just before their game-winning drive. Zordich had just 2 yards rushing, but none was bigger than his 1-yard burst with 2:42 left that gave Penn State its first lead of the afternoon. Expect more from the two Michaels as the year rolls on.

What Was He Thinking? Temple QB Mike Gerardi. The Owls’ signal caller was particularly bad, completing 9 of 22 for 95 yards a sack and two interceptions. The two picks were costly for the Owls and were poorly thrown balls that took momentum away from the Owls. By now, Gerardi has seen the film and it wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately, he’s probably Temple’s best option moving forward.

Numerology … 2:42

That’s how much time was left when Zordich burst in from a yard out to give Penn State a 14-10 edge. Until that point, Temple looked like it was ready to shock the football world and get its first win over PSU since 1941. Temple has improved, that’s for sure, but they should always be no match for Penn State, based on the talent standing on the sidelines.

The Countdown

5. Evan Lewis – Lewis was in our countdown last week, and he’s here again. He missed field goals of 45- 49- and 36-yards on Saturday. The 36-yard attempt was shockingly bad, as it doinked off the upright. We’re not trying to kick the kid when he’s down, but there are high school kickers who can make a 36-yarder. Simply put, the kid has got to get it together.

4. Bolden/McGloin – The dynamic duo was also in our countdown last week as well. While neither QB played well, both engineered scoring drives. Fans will probably remember Bolden’s more as it propelled the Nits to the victory. For the day, Bolden completed 9 of 17 for 92 yards. He was also sacked and had an ugly interception. McGloin was 13 of 19 for 124 with no turnovers, but also no touchdowns. Who will get off the bus first this week? We’re guessing it will be Bolden starting once again, but only time will tell.

3. Derek Moye – The star wideout had a big day, catching seven balls for 112 yards. He was all over the field on Saturday afternoon and continues to impress. Coming into the season, Moye was probably a lower-round NFL draft pick. However, with each solid performance, his stock continues to rise. He also had a pair of punt returns for 39 yards.

2. Silas Redd – The running back had a nice afternoon at the Linc, carrying the ball 16 times for 89 yards – an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He’ll need to work on those numbers as the Nits get into conference play. Expect a huge afternoon this week against overmatched Eastern Michigan.

1. Joe Paterno – Although the ESPN cameras couldn’t catch a glimpse of him through the glass at the Linc, we’re pretty sure the iconic coach was up there. With the way JoePa is getting around these days, you can probably expect him to spend the remainder of the season in the box. It seems highly unlikely that university officials would let him be a sitting duck on the sidelines during live action. While it doesn’t make for good television, Paterno in the box is probably for the best.

Gameday: Eastern Michigan

Penn State will have its final cupcake of the non-conference schedule and it should be an easy win. Eastern Michigan comes into the game fresh off a 31-3 shellacking at the hands of Denard Robinson and Michigan. Saturday’s game gives Penn State one final chance to get things right before the real games begin next week. Silas Redd goes over 100, Moye grabs a couple of TDs and both QBs get ample playing time. PSU in a rout.

Gantdaily.com prediction: Penn State 38, Eastern Michigan 6.

Chris Morelli is an award-winning writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics for gantdaily.com. He’s also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at morellionlion@gmail.com. Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!

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