For the first time since 1941, Temple beat Penn State, and it took out decades of frustration on Christian Hackenberg in the process.
With plenty of optimism around the Nittany Lions through the offseason, with hopes for a bounce-back season for a hyped NFL prospect in Hackenberg and an improved offensive line, the Penn State offense looked even worse than last season in Saturday's trip to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. PSU had no idea how to handle Temple, which is the first time that sentence has ever been written.
Temple won 27-10, scoring 27 straight points after Penn State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. With nearly their entire defense back after allowing just 17.5 points per game last year, the Owls dominated the Nittany Lions throughout the final three quarters, leaving Penn State's offense baffled and looking like it made zero progress over the eight long months of the offseason. The most notable coaching moment for the Nittany Lions came when James Franklin appeared to question the inflation level of a football. (Let's not go through #Inflategate. PLEASE.)
Temple attacked Penn State with different types of pressure, including delayed blitzes, and things unraveled from there. Things got so bad for the Nittany Lions that Hackenberg was sacked by Temple's two-man pass rush, with ease.
Hackenberg made several bad decisions, including an interception nearly returned for a touchdown that set up Temple's go-ahead score, but pass protection problems were a factor on nearly every play, and the play-calling found no way to deal with it. Offensive line issues can put a team in bad third-and-long situations, and those third-and-longs thus start appearing hopeless. In the end, Temple finished with 10 sacks -- equaling Penn State's point total -- and the Owls out-gained Penn State 317 to 191. Hackenberg completed 11 of 25 passes for 103 yards with an interception.
Former Penn State players weren't exactly shy about expressing their dissatisfaction on Twitter, including 2015 second-round pick Donovan Smith, who left early for the draft:
This exact reason https://t.co/xxxpdThGG9— Donovan Smith (@DSmith_76) September 5, 2015
So I wasn't gonna be "that guy".... But now I will be.... Offensive coordinator sucks.— Adam Gress (@GressSquatch) September 5, 2015
Everybody's impatience is justified, but know that Hack is the real deal. Point the finger elsewhere.— Adam Gress (@GressSquatch) September 5, 2015
Penn State fans may look to blame one thing in particular, but really, everyone on the team played a part in the disaster. Hackenberg made some poor decisions. The offensive line was overmatched. And the coaching staff failed in putting the Nittany Lions in the best position to succeed, over and over. There were already significant doubts about the hype around Hackenberg, and those doubts will be magnified more than ever. One can't help but wonder how'd he perform in a more stable situation.
What was the feeling overall from the Nittany Lions faithful?
Penn State dude just stood up at the bar and spiked his phone.— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) September 5, 2015
Sounds about right.