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Penn State football finds itself with little to play for in 0-3 start

Greater than in another season we’ve ever seen, the problem for coaches as this factor drags on is to verify their gamers don’t begin mentally and emotionally packing it in. 

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For groups whose objectives and desires have already been dashed, what’s the motivation? As a lot as everybody needed to play school soccer in 2020, it hasn’t been a picnic. Getting examined for COVID-19 on a regular basis, the annoying precautions within the soccer constructing, the sacrifice of social life. And what’s the payoff on the finish of the day if you happen to’re not enjoying for a championship? Heck, you don’t even get the joys of enjoying in entrance of 100,000 followers. 

That’s an actual situation in sure packages that lose just a few video games, and it’s actually an actual situation at Penn State. 

How else do you clarify a 35-19 loss to Maryland that dropped the Nittany Lions to 0-3?

Simply hearken to what Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson informed reporters Saturday after essentially the most putrid recreation of James Franklin’s tenure: “We’re not as one proper now. We’re not a unit proper now. There’s numerous various things occurring. There’s simply distractions that we shouldn’t be centered on proper now.” 

Whereas Dotson did not say precisely what he meant, you possibly can learn between the traces. Penn State misplaced star linebacker Micah Parsons to an opt-out; it misplaced working again Journey Brown to a medical situation. Then Penn State acquired gut-punched within the season opener in opposition to Indiana, had the misfortune of dealing with Ohio State the subsequent week and instantly discovered itself with little to play for in a pandemic 12 months. Would you be significantly excited to go to work beneath these circumstances? 

Clearly, the Nittany Lions will not be. And the earlier followers don’t have to observe this meltdown, the higher, which is why Penn State ranks No. 1 on this week’s Distress Index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions primarily based on what every fan base simply watched.

Extra:Opinion: Notre Dame ‘made historical past’ by upsetting No. 1 Clemson, however win is simply first step

FOUR MORE IN MISERY

UCLA: The overwhelming majority of UCLA followers seemingly misplaced monitor of Karl Dorrell a number of years in the past. After teaching the Bruins for 5 largely mediocre seasons and getting fired in 2007, Dorrell bounced round a number of NFL staffs with a one-season detour to Vanderbilt as an assistant. There was little cause to consider his title would develop into related once more for UCLA, which was imagined to be on its strategy to the massive time when it employed Chip Kelly three years in the past. That half hasn’t labored out thus far. Kelly is simply 7-18, and there’s little cause to consider he’s going to dwell as much as the hype. However the true salt within the wound second got here Saturday, when UCLA was getting embarrassed for a half by a Colorado program that employed Dorrell in February after Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State. Although UCLA made it aggressive on the finish, a 48-42 loss to one in every of its former coaches whereas Kelly continues to flail is precisely the type of state of affairs the Distress Index was constructed for. 

Virginia Tech: Errors occur in soccer that we typically blame coaches for incorrectly, however they merely have to just accept duty as a result of it’s what they’re paid to do. However then there are gaffes the place it’s apparent to the whole world that the coach actually screwed up. That’s what occurred within the remaining seconds Saturday, the Hokies tied with Liberty at 35 and dealing with the prospect of an embarrassing defeat to an upstart program in their very own yard. Because the would-be remaining play unfolded on TV, it appeared that Virginia Tech had blocked Liberty’s longshot try at a 59-yard subject purpose and returned it for a game-winning landing. Everybody was celebrating, however Justin Fuente wasn’t. He knew that only a fraction of a second earlier than the snap, he had a known as a timeout. Fuente mentioned he did it out of warning, to verify the appropriate personnel was on the sphere and to not ice the kicker. Regardless, it gave Liberty one other probability. And because the kick went by way of the uprights, Fuente has a training second he’ll “by no means recover from.” 

Tennessee: It’s not simply that the Vols appeared so mentally fragile and so bodily mismatched throughout a second-half collapse in opposition to Arkansas that turned a 13-0 lead right into a 24-13 loss. Tennessee followers have seen that type of factor loads of occasions earlier than. However what’s acquired to be actually galling is how a lot it stood in distinction to the boldness and toughness displayed by an Arkansas program enjoying for a first-year coach who inherited a workforce that hadn’t gained an SEC recreation since 2017. At 2-4, the Vols look fully misplaced, and with video games developing in opposition to Texas A&M, Auburn and Florida, they’re on monitor for a really dangerous season. Furthermore, they appear to have no clue what their offensive id is or who ought to lead them at quarterback as Pruitt cycled by way of Jarrett Guarantano and Brian Maurer earlier than bizarrely turning to freshman Harrison Bailey halfway by way of the fourth quarter. That didn’t finish effectively both, largely as a result of Pruitt foolishly determined to not kick a 42-yard subject purpose with 4:32 remaining within the recreation when it could have closed the hole to simply eight factors. As an alternative, Arkansas introduced stress on a fourth down play and Bailey threw an interception. Tennessee is a large number — but once more — and there’s no clear pathway out of it. 

Nebraska: How do you reconcile the concept Scott Frost’s offense at UCF operated like a wrecking crew, however his offense at Nebraska hasn’t been efficient in any respect? In 2017, Frost’s offense ranked second nationally behind solely Oklahoma in yards per play, launching him to his dream job at his alma mater. However since going house, Nebraska has ranked twentieth, 72nd and now twentieth once more in the identical statistic. That isn’t progress. No matter you consider Nebraska’s expectations for its program lately, 12 months 3 is an enormous one in determining whether or not the muse you’ve laid down is stable. By now, you possibly can normally inform whether or not it’s working. A 21-13 loss to Northwestern by which Nebraska went 4-for-16 on third down and had two good second-half drives finish in interceptions suggests it’s not. 

TRENDING TOWARD MISERY

Arizona State: With 4:34 remaining in its season opener and forward 27-14 on the scoreboard, there was nearly no path for the Solar Devils to lose to USC, even when they’d tried. However defying all odds, Arizona State one way or the other did not cease a fourth-and-13, couldn’t recuperate an onsides kick, then noticed USC rating once more on fourth-and-9 with 1:20 left to win the sport. After enjoying nice protection all day, to have all of it disintegrate on the finish units an ominous tone for the remainder of the season.

Michigan: Not a lot else must be mentioned in regards to the present state of issues at Michigan, however we’ll give it a shot anyway. They formally stink. We’ve by no means needed to reckon with that actuality earlier than a few Jim Harbaugh workforce, however right here it’s: Indiana 38, Michigan 21, in a recreation that made the Wolverines seem fairly lifeless. How does a program like Michigan run the ball for simply 13 yards on 18 makes an attempt? That isn’t acceptable, and it’s not who they need to be. Harbaugh has to know that, however there’s simply no readability in any respect in regards to the core id of what Michigan desires its workforce to seem like. 

South Carolina: We have now a nine-year pattern dimension on Will Muschamp as a head coach, and irrespective of what number of occasions his defenders insist in any other case, he merely shouldn’t be capable of put collectively a reliable offense. Even with that mentioned, Saturday’s 48-3 loss to Texas A&M was nearly actually the low level. The Gamecocks went from dangerous to unwatchable in gaining simply 150 whole yards, advancing the ball past midfield simply thrice. With every passing week, the concept of South Carolina swallowing exhausting and paying the $13.4 million buyout owed to Muschamp turns into extra practical.

Texas Tech: While you’re already beneath hearth from followers — and Matt Wells actually has been currently together with his file slipping to 6-13 — the worst factor you are able to do is fan the flames with a mind-numbing determination that works out terribly. The Purple Raiders have been trailing TCU 27-18 when Wells determined with 2:45 remaining to kick a 37-yard subject purpose on second down and all three timeouts in his pocket. Even when the concept is to chop the deficit to 6, then attempt to get the ball again for a game-winning drive, there’s merely no logic to doing it proper then, with that a lot time left and the power to cease the clock. And, after all, you threat lacking the sphere purpose and giving your self no probability — which is precisely what occurred. 

TOTALLY REAL AND IRRATIONAL MESAGE BOARD THREADS

“We should embrace the suck.” — lions247.com (Penn State)

“Really enjoying Liberty within the 1st place is worse than dropping to them” — Tech Sideline

“The one fraud on this nation is Head Coach at Nebraska” — Husker On-line 

“Nuclear possibility: Peyton Manning as Head Coach” — Vol Nation 

“That subject purpose determination was the stupidest name in soccer historical past” — RedRaiderSports.com

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