After defeating Syracuse 23-17 in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium, Penn State now focuses its attention on beating an improved Eastern Michigan football team at noon Saturday (BTN, BTN2Go).
Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg was 22 of 31 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut, and wide receiver Allen Robinson had seven receptions for 133 yards and a TD.
EMU gave up a whopping 384 yards to FCS-level Howard in its 34-24 win against the Bison last week, but that doesn’t mean PSU is in for a cakewalk.
“They’re an athletic, tough team,” PSU coach Bill O’Brien said on a Tuesday teleconference. “Defensively, they pose a lot of problems with their scheme. They’re going to pressure us.
“They’re going to make sure that we’re sharp. We better be, because they’re tough.”
And rightfully so, as Eagles tailback Bronson Hill rushed 28 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns – with most of his production coming in the second half. EMU boasts an experienced QB in Tyler Benz and a speedy back in Darius Jackson.
“Offensively, they do a lot of different things similar to what we prepared for with Syracuse,” O’Brien added. “We need to have a good week of practice, because Eastern Michigan is going to come in here ready to play.”
For EMU, it will be difficult preparing for Hackenberg, because he only has one game of film available for the Eagles to study.
However, although O’Brien is tremendous at orchestrating offenses, English believes what PSU does with the freshman QB is simple in nature.
“They’re going to do what they do,” English said. “I think they’re very strong in what they do offensively.
“I don’t think they’re doing a lot of concepts, but I think they’re doing a lot of concepts masqueraded by different personnel groups and formations. For players, it can seem like a lot. For his quarterback, it’s simple.”
And understanding that may benefit EMU’s defense. Last week, 13 different PSU players touched the ball on offense. The Eagles just have to recognize the difference between formation packages and personnel, and they just may make it close.
It would be a considerable upset if EMU drops PSU at Beaver Stadium but with a player like star-linebacker Sean Kurtz on defense, the Eagles might make the game interesting longer than fans think it will be.