A win – that’s what this Penn State football team needs more than anything else.
There has been a lot of talk about improving – improving in the second half, improving on third down defense, improving in the red zone. All of that would be wonderful, but what this team needs to do is win Saturday against Navy. It doesn’t matter how ugly it is, a victory is of the utmost importance.
It’s difficult to remember such a deflating and heartbreaking loss than the one the Nittany Lions suffered at Virginia. For all the deficiencies they showed against the Cavaliers, there is no question they completely outplayed them.
Navy, which got blown out 50-10 in its opener against Notre Dame in Ireland, had last week off and, thus, an extra week to prepare for Penn State.
Navy coach Ken Niamatalolo saw last week’s game and knows that even know Penn State is 0-2, it has the capability of being a good football team.
“They’re a couple of plays away from being 2-0,” Niumatalolo said earlier this week. “On the other side of it, we got blown out. They know they’re only a couple of plays away from being 2-0 and I’m sure their confidence level hasn’t been rattled at all.
“We need to be ready to face a good Penn State team,” he said. “Watched the game this past Saturday and they definitely should have won the game against Virginia. Obviously, they had some missed field goals in there, but they moved the ball, and to Virginia’s credit they made enough plays but I’m sure Penn State felt like they should have won that game.”
Many people across the country think this 0-2 team is horrible, that it’s beaten down and really has no chance.
Anybody, though, that actually watched the first two games can attest to the fact there is potential there. This could be 2-0 and certainly should be 1-1. This is against two teams that combined to win 18 games last year and both were projected to be better this season.
Navy is not as good as either one of those two teams. That doesn’t mean that this will be an easy win for Penn State. There will be no easy wins this year.
However, it is a game that the Nittany Lions should win. Navy doesn’t have the personnel of Virginia or Ohio – and the Midshipmen don’t have the personnel that Penn State has.
They do have an effective offensive attack that is difficult to prepare for and will probably cause problems for the defense.
However, I would expect the defense to adjust and be strong. Virginia wasn’t able to run the ball last week. I don’t think that Navy will be able to batter its way up and down the field against the Lions’ front seven.
As far as the Penn State offense is concerned, this is the week it should start getting healthy.
After the excellent opening drive against Virginia it really didn’t do a lot. They got just three points off four turnovers and spent most of the day in Virginia territory without much success.
Don’t look for an offensive juggernaut, but I would expect it to move the ball and find a way to score touchdowns.
If Penn State can do that, it will finally get that much-needed win.
Prediction: Penn State 27, Navy 13.
Marty Valania covers football for nittanylionsden.com. Follow him @EastRecruiting on Twitter.