Penn State Falls Due to Lack of Creativity

Penn State MichiganIf Appalachian State diagramed it, Oregon gift-wrapped it.

Penn State was handed the blueprint for beating Michigan on a silver platter and decided to put their own stamp on it. Both App State and Oregon beat UM by forcing their linebackers to cover the field sideline to sideline, which they are clearly incapable of doing.

While the Nittany Lions did spread the field today, something they were reluctant of doing last season, they forgot one element of the spread offense that makes it so dangerous … a quarterback, who is a threat to run the football.

Quarterback Anthony Morelli has a strong arm and a good understanding of the offense but he doesn’t offer the same threat as Oregon QB Dennis Dixon did two weeks ago against the Wolverines.

There is a player on the Penn State roster who does.

A quarterback in high school, wide receiver Derrick Williams has the skill set that would have had the Maize and Blue quivering in their seats, had lined up behind center this afternoon.

It would be impossible to prepare Williams to play the position for any long stretch of the game.

Derrick WilliamsNevertheless, had PSU implemented a few facets of the spread offense (option, read-option) during the week, then the Michigan linebackers wouldn’t have been able to crash the line of scrimmage as frequently as they did. Williams is a playmaker, he knows he isn’t getting the ball enough as it is, why not snap it to him on occasion and give him a run-pass option that surely would have given Michigan fits?

A lack of creativity among coaching staffs is more aggravating than an undisciplined penalty or a fumble.

The Nittany Lions staff has shown us just how static they can be despite an abundance of talent at the skill positions. Last season’s blowout loss to Notre Dame was exactly the case. Williams was the most highly recruited player in his high school class for a reason and it’s about time he was given the opportunity to shine.

On the other side of this equation stands the Michigan Wolverines. The worst defeat in Michigan history was followed by an embarrassing loss on home turf to a chronically underachieving Pac-10 team and the injury of starting quarterback Chad Henne. UM was on fragile ground.

This victory, however, puts them right back in the Big 10 race and a fourth Rose Bowl in five years isn’t out of the question (though that may also be a fourth Rose Bowl loss in five years).

If teams continue to play old school Big 10, three yards and a cloud of dust football with the Wolverines this season, it will be a walk in the park. There are a few teams on the schedule who know how spread the field and may I suggest a trip to Illinois on October 20 as a definite speed bump for this porous Michigan secondary.

The week before playing Illinois, Purdue may also present problems but QB Curtis Painter isn’t nearly the athlete Illinois’ Juice Williams is. Next week’s game against Northwestern is another potential road-block but they don’t seem to have the talent to pull off such an upset.

Even if this Michigan team does trip up along the way, two critical season ending battles will tell the tale of the 2007 season; a trip to Madison, Wisconsin and a home date with the Ohio State University. Those matchups should determine the Big 10 champion and Rose Bowl participant.

Michigan might be down but they’re not out, not by a long shot.

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