Yeah, Penn State lost to Rutgers on Tuesday and I haven’t blogged since then. It’s not because I’m afraid! I’m not afraid to blog about anything unrelated to politics, race, and serious real-life business! I’ve just been busy exploring the Wild Area in Pokemon Shield, okay? So many Pokemon to catch and so little time. It’s been exhausting but fun.
The loss was a setback, for sure. We came in thinking that the Lions could win a defensive battle with the new depth of scoring options that they’ve discovered this year. However, Rutgers is a great defensive team, and Penn State wasn’t able to get all of its scorers involved. Lamar Stevens struggled to do anything in the first half, but Mike Watkins made some big plays to give the Lions a lead at the half. After the break, Myreon Jones found his jumper, but Watkins slowed down and no one could get to the basket. That’s been my issue with Stevens this year. He’s settling for a lot of low-efficiency jumpers and not attacking the basket as much. With the way the Jones boys have been shooting, there should be more room in the lane to operate.
Anyway, the big difference in the second half for Rutgers was that Ron Harper Jr. finally got going and Jacob Young came off the bench and made some great plays cutting into the paint. Rutgers outscored Penn State in the second half, 44-28.
Today, the Lions are back home to take on Wisconsin and it’s a huge game for PSU’s tournament chances. All the pundits have Penn State as a four or five seed with room for error, but anyone who has watched this team over the years is waiting for the other shoe to drop in the form of a large losing streak. In order to prove critics like me wrong, Pat Chambers has to get a win today against a pack of badgers that is feisty, but not as fierce as the groups that Bo Ryan used to coach. If he doesn’t, the schedule ahead doesn’t get any easier, and we could start to hear questions about whether Penn State is truly a viable NCAA Tournament team.
Giants Hire Joe Judge
The Giants made a surprising move when they hired Joe Judge off of New England’s staff. We had heard that Judge was being interviewed, but no one really took him seriously because the Giants and former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule were said to be in love with each other. It seemed to be a match made in heaven with Rhule having just finished rapid turnaround jobs at Temple and Baylor. Plus, he’s a New York native who spent a year as an assistant offensive line coach with the Giants before taking the Temple job. However, when asked by Rhule to match his offer from the Panthers, the Giants said no thanks and went with Judge.
It’s easy to be skeptical of Judge because he’s never been an offensive or defensive coordinator in the NFL or college football. His last job was as New England’s special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach. However, there’s a reason he was on the coaching carousel radar and was also rumored to be interested in taking the head coach job at his alma mater, Mississippi State. Judge has worked under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban and has had lots of important people say good things about him. It doesn’t sound like much, but the Giants were so impressed by him during his interview that they gave him the job over more experienced candidates.
Maybe the Giants just didn’t want to pay Rhule all that money, or maybe they wanted a young coach who could easily be manipulated. But there’s also the possibility that they really believe in Judge. That’s what I thought when I heard Judge’s introductory press conference. He sounded like a young Bill Parcells or Tom Coughlin – two guys that Giants ownership obviously thinks highly of – with his talk of playing old-school physical football and playing every snap at maximum effort. That type of mindset aligns with Dave Gettleman’s for sure. Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur are former offensive coordinators who emphasized more modern strategy with some short passes in place of runs. It makes sense that Giants ownership would want to go back to a guy who is a young Coughlin.
Will it work? I hope so, but trying to play man ball and run up the middle on every first down is going to put you at a disadvantage in today’s NFL. Offenses like Baltimore and San Francisco show there is still a place in the NFL for running the ball, but it has to be done with the goal of efficiency in mind. Running the ball to set up the pass or running the ball to wear down the defense is not going to put the Giants on the path to success. We’ll learn a lot more about Judge’s offensive philosophy when he makes his coordinator hires.