When it was announced several years ago that Penn State would be coming to Charlottesville in 2012, I had a lot of mixed emotions. A big name team from a big name conference coming to Scott Stadium is always a good thing. Just like USC back in 2009, even if we got trounced, it was a good opportunity to sell tickets and get some exposure. On the flipside, I looked at it as a game that we were unlikely to win.
Of course, that was before the whole Jerry Sandusky thing blew up, Joe Paterno was fired, Joe Paterno passed away, a handful of talented players transferred, the Freeh report, the Ped State jokes and the loss to the Ohio Bobcats (yes, that's right - not The Ohio State University).
This is not your father's Penn State. Or, quite frankly, your grandfather's. Since that's about how long Paterno was at the helm. They've been rocked in a dozen ways that make their football team a mere shadow of its former self.
But there was still plenty of excitement and fanfare at Scott Stadium on Saturday. Even with the noon game, the crowd was fairly solid, if a bit too filled with PSU fans.
Check back after the jump for my random thoughts from the game.
I'm going to skip straight to my random musings section this week. More in-depth thoughts should return in the future.
- There were a ton of Penn State fans there. A TON. Which, for some reason, didn't bother me as much as when there are that many Hokies in Scott Stadium. Wonder why? Maybe because all the Penn State fans I encountered were friendly? Hrm...
- I've always been a huge fan of The Adventures of Cavman. I think it's something fairly unique that people of all ages can cheer for (after all, a drunk 50 year old can get just as excited about cartoons as a sober 5 year old). But I have to admit... I'm getting a little tired of it. I hope they can find a way to update it. Just please, no handshakes. For the love of TJ, no handshakes.
- Obligatory fashion comment: Not really a fan of the Syracuse/Illinois look with Orange/Blue/Orange. That's probably the only combination I've seen so far that I haven't been a fan of. But if the players like it... then I really don't care.
- Obligatory fashion comment follow-up: I do like the dance team's new outfits though.
- Jake McGee. Has enough been said about him the last two weeks? A lot has been said, but it can't be enough. Two of the most spectacular catches I've ever seen... and by the same player over the course of just two games. I was really stoked that he got the touchdown catch that put Virginia ahead for good. I doubt it went through Lazor or Rocco's minds, but it was a nice way to say "thanks" for making that catch earlier in the drive.
- Darius Jennings has really come into his own. You could see last year that his talent was there, but the applications of it were just too few and far between. This year, he has already made his mark and in a couple of different ways. His touchdown catch-and-run during the Richmond game was an impressive physical feat. He faked the defender out of his cleats, then beat a couple of tackles for the long touchdown. But then again, we knew he was physically talented. That's why his two sideline catches this week were almost more impressive to me. It's clear that Rocco has a comfort level with Jennings and that is going to lead to some very good things as the season progresses.
- I REALLY want Dominique Terrell to play well. I really do. He's a talented guy. He's a Virginian. He's got ties to Virginia like crazy (older brother played at Liberty with Rocco's older brother; Scott Wachenheim was his older brother's coach, etc). But if he drops passes like he did in the open during this game, he may not get that many opportunities. We have too many talented wide receivers on the roster. That said, I'm really glad that we went back to him - on what appeared to be the same exact play - and he made the catch.
- Continuing to play after losing your helmet is a 15 yard personal foul penalty?!? Shouldn't you get a few free points on the scoreboard for being such a beast that you don't need a helmet? Seriously though, I understand the point of the penalty. But a 15 yard personal foul seems a little excessive to me. Especially when the Penn State player put his hands to Jake Snyder's helmet and knocked it off. Why should we be penalized for that?
- Speaking of weird fouls... for whatever reason, I happened to be staring right at the referee in the second quarter when he ran sideways smack into one of our coaches who was standing a little too far onto the field. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would definitely say that between this penalty and the helmet penalty, someone was out to make sure this game went PSU's way. Oh yeah, and if I also forgot about the 5 missed kicks during the game.
- I've said it before and I'll say it again. One of the few good things about a smaller crowd during the games? Shorter concession lines.
- I love seeing us recognize our star athletes from other sports at football and basketball games. This week it was the 2012 national champion Virginia Rowing team, led by Kevin Sauer. Sauer, incidentally, is the office-neighbor of volleyball coach Dennis Hohenshelt, and I recently ran into him at the Orange and Blue Scrimmage.
- When Penn State was lining up for the final kick of the game, my friend turned to me and said "there's no way they miss a fourth. It's just not possible." Turns out, it's possible.
- How perfect was it when the sun came out while we celebrated the victory immediately following the rain coming down while PSU was driving to try to win the game?