Photo Credit: Tom Mairs (www.tommairs.com)

Big yellow buses and a longer commute to work can only mean one thing: The kids are back in school. My husband and I are both teachers by profession, but I’m sure most people can still remember that back to school feeling. The first day is always fresh and shiny. New clothes, new shoes, new books, new classmates. A new and optimistic attitude about yourself for the upcoming year. The second day, well, the second is tougher. It doesn’t feel as bright and new, or filled with endless possibility. The second day is when you have to do a little something. Nothing truly difficult, but definitely some work. That’s when you start to see ok, this is how this class is really going to be, these are the things we really need to address. You wonder if this year will be better, or if old habits might get in the way again.

And so it is with our fresh and shiny football team. On our first day, Idaho helped us look good. Second-day-Buffalo shows us what needs to be addressed.

The bad news is our excitement might be down a notch. Cue the emoji face with gritted teeth. We looked less than great in the first half. The running game that was so good last week fizzled. We couldn’t convert third downs. The defense left holes. The ball was fumbled. We had to be that “second half” team again. Nobody in this Nittany Nation wants to return to hobbling through the season playing only second halves. The temptation to go to that here-we-go-again place is hard to resist.

The good news is nobody panicked. Well, except for the “Fire Franklin” brigade, but they’ve been hiding under a bridge waiting for any opportunity. The rest of us just kept breathing away our anxiety while the second half rolled along as we’d hoped. The issues don’t seem glaring. It appears the team can successfully make adjustments at half time. Sean Clifford still delivered, even if somewhat inconsistently. Jordan Stout continues to boot touchbacks. We showed we can take our offense to the air. We accrued very few penalties. And when John Reid intercepted the ball, he also stole the game’s momentum. We’re still excited but now with a hint of reality. We’re still optimistic about the season, but now looking to settle in for the long haul.

And the great news? This team is young and they’re only going to get better. I, for one, can’t wait to watch.

Dawn graduated from Penn State in 2002. As a student, she never missed a football game. She camped out for front row seats before it was cool and danced in Thon. She currently lives outside of Philadelphia. She enjoys teaching, yoga, and being a new mom.

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