September 1, 2012 at 7:20 PM
Saturday marked the beginning of Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton and tailback Beau Blankenship’s sixth season of playing football together, dating back to high school. The two have connected on countless handoffs and passes through their careers.
They came together on 31 handoffs and seven passes in the Bobcats’ upset of Penn State, 24-14, at Beaver Stadium. Tettleton’s runs, Blankenship’s runs and Tettleton’s completions to Blankenship accounted for 45 percent of Ohio’s offense.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin doesn’t share nearly as much experience with his top two running backs. Bill Belton, Penn State’s starting tailback, took mostly direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation last season as a freshman. Listed as a wide receiver in 2011, he caught only one pass.
Senior Derek Day, a former walk-on, had seven collegiate carries before 2012. He had eight carries and a reception in Penn State’s 24-14 loss to Ohio.
Belton’s and Day’s runs (McGloin didn’t run the ball), in addition to McGloin’s completions to each of them, accounted for 30 percent of Penn State’s offense. Penn State tallied 147 less yards than Ohio on the day.
Both Day and Belton took punishment during the game. Day lost his helmet on a vicious collision toward the end of the first quarter. With his head exposed, he also got slammed on the second hit. Day was examined by trainers on the field, but he returned to the action in short order. He said after the game he was fine.
Belton also went to the ground with an ankle injury during the game.
“They’re doing well,” wide receiver Shawney Kersey said of Belton’s and cornerback Stephon Morris’ injuries -- Morris also hurt his ankle. “They’re walking. I don’t see them not being back in a week.”
But O’Brien and the players all said they haven’t heard anything from the trainers regarding Belton’s and Morris’ health. If Belton is unable to suit up, all of sudden Penn State could have two former walk-on’s starting in the backfield.
“I haven’t thought about it, but obviously [starting] is something I have to be ready for,” Day said. “If he’s unable to play in any game, I believe that I’m ready to do that. We’ll see what happens, but I’ll make sure that I’m prepared.”
McGloin had a consistent first half in the air, with the exception of one or two ill-advised passes that landed harmlessly in the grass. He went 16-for-26, passing for 178 yards and touchdowns.
McGloin cooled off significantly in the second half, throwing 11-for-22 for 82 yards, no points and a pick.
Still, wide receiver Allen Robinson felt confident in his quarterback’s ability.
“I think Matt played great. He had a real great game,” Robinson said. “He made a lot of good decisions. I think it was overall performance at the end of the drive that we just have to finish. It wasn’t on Matt, it wasn’t on the receivers, it wasn’t on the linemen. We just got to come together at the end of the drive and finish.”
O’Brien echoed those sentiments.
“I think [McGloin] played a solid football game,” he said. “I think he made some plays. He’s made a lot of strides. I’m proud to be his coach and I’m going to do a better job for him.”
McGloin was a little more critical of himself.
“I felt comfortable in [O’Brien’s offense],” McGloin said. “I felt we ran the ball when we had to and threw it when we had to. We have great wideouts. I threw a couple bad passes today. You have to know when to throw the ball here and here. You got to know who you’re throwing to.
"I took what [Ohio] gave me today.”