My favorite part of the whole Penn State football experience are the moments during pregame when the drum major does his flips to the team running out. All the anticipation, all the excitement builds in that brief span of events like a rubber band stretched to its fullest, an arrow pulled back, a rollercoaster paused at the top of the first huge hill. Everybody’s happy and excited and hopeful. A perfect, unblemished season stretches before us. The weather, a delightful mix between hot sun and cool shade. The sky showing it’s rooting interest. And Beaver Stadium packed to the hilt with our people. I love it.
After our first win and an emphatic 79-7 route at that, here are four things I’m excited for this season:
One, Sean Clifford, obviously. A new quarterback is always exciting. You never quite know exactly what you are going to get. I loved the hype around him last year— Sean Clifford for Heisman— after his first flawless appearance. He’s confident without being cocky and his teammates clearly trust him, as he was already voted captain. Also, the guy nearly quoted JoePa when he calmed his unexpected nerves by telling himself “footwork, stick to the basics — and the rest took care of itself.”
Two, the defense as a whole. I crave the anxiety-relief a solid defense allows and the consensus in our house is that the defense looked good. Yeah, yeah Idaho was not a challenging opponent, I know. Our defense stopped them on a fourth and one while we were all still settling down. They didn’t allow a first down until somewhere in the second quarter. They sacked Idaho seven times and only allowed them 145 total yards.
Three, Jordan Stout. Maybe it’s just me but I like to get excited about an interesting kicker. In recent years, I’ve admired Sam Ficken’s tenacity. I couldn’t get enough of Big Toe’s courageous story. And now I’m intrigued by Jordan Stout. Kid shows up from Virginia Tech and boots one through the uprights from 53 yards. If that’s not enough to get your attention, he also kicked thirteen touchbacks which has to be some kind of school record.
Fourth and finally, how about Runningback U? It’s no secret how much I love that old Big Ten commercial with the coaches sitting on the couches spouting off silly recruiting lines. It’s such a ridiculous Paterno moment; him, all excitedly growling, “We’re Linebacker U!” You know you love it. I’m trying to imagine him getting worked up about Runningback U and though I can’t really picture it, I have no trouble believing we’re it. First, we had Saquon, then Miles Sanders, now we have Ricky Slade. And Journey Brown and Noah Cain. Oh and Devyn Ford and Nick Eury. Did all five of our running backs score TDs in our opening game? Yes, yes they did. Sounds like Runningback U to me.
Bonus number five: I’m excited to see what Trace McSorely might do at the next level now that he’s been named to the Ravens roster.
What’s on your list?