Penn State took the field shortly before noon on Saturday to thunderous applause in their season opener at Beaver Stadium vs. Ohio. To say it was emotional is an understatement; close to 100 thousand fans came out to show they care – care about this team, their university and all those caught in the disaster that is Jerry Sandusky and his horrible acts.
Saturday was about playing football (finally) after NCAA sanctions, Board of Trustees pronouncements and all sorts of sanctimonious nonsense. Unfortunately for Penn State, all of those things seemed to take their toll on the collective psyche of the team and once the adrenaline burned off, the second half showed all the rough spots. Despite leading 14-3 at the half, the Nittany Lions fell 24-14. Their once heralded defense deflated, allowing 499 offensive yards, albeit against an Ohio team that is clearly on the rise.
Linebacker Michael Mauti yelled an screamed on the sidelines, literally till he was red in the face, but the exhaustion of his teammates was evident. This team has lost a head coach – to firing amidst a scandal, and his eventually passing – teammates who transferred when the NCAA ruling came down, and were probably the most scrutinized group of young men in the country for the past several months. They are emotionally drained.
Bill O’Brien earned a small victory in getting his team ready to play and getting them out on the field. The ones that go in the record books will take a lot more work of a different kind.
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Written by Stephanie Geosits