Penn State took on the University of Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland in the Croke Park Classic.
Top draft pick Blake Bortles put UCF on the map last season, but they are more than Blake Bortles and actually have a salty defense. What do you expect from a team located in Florida and filled with Florida players. The talent of athletes coming out of the state of Florida should not be underestimated.
I was a bit sleepy when this game started at 7:30 A:M on a Saturday. We had been hearing that Christian Hackenberg had bulked up a bit during the off season. I laid eyes on #18 running on the field for the Penn State Nittany Lions and my thoughts were “Wow, he really has bulked up. He’s huge!!!” Number 18 is Tight End Jessie James who is actually 6-7, 270 and extremely ripped. I had forgotten that Hackenberg is number 14. He is bigger, but there’s no way he’s filled out at 270 now.
Hey, I was sleepy. What can I say?
I am a fan of Christian Hackenberg. He’s only 19 now and a true freshman and I feel like he has the potential to be as good or better than any of the current college QBs long term. I am saying he has the potential, not that he is actually is as good or better.
Hackenberg is making some brilliant throws and he is still making some bone headed plays. Hopefully, the brilliant throws are more than the bone headed moves.
This was the debut of new Penn State coach James Franklin who did wonders at Vanderbilt. Expect huge things out of Franklin at Penn State and especially after they have 85 scholarships available again soon.
Right now, they have limited depth. They actually have 2 former Defensive Tackles starting at both Offensive Guard positions. It was somewhat humorous when former DT Brian Gaia was called for a hold costing the Nittany Lions a big play. Kind of hard to break the habit of grabbing and not using your feet. Penn State coaching staff did not find the humor in it, I am sure.
How ironic is it that George O’Leary is coaching for UCF in Dublin, Ireland?
UCF, in spite of any irony and losing their outstanding QB Blake Bortles, still has an outstanding defense. They return most everybody and their secondary is extremely talented. Their offense was awful in the first half and the defense was the only thing that kept the Central Florida Knights in the game.
Pete DeNivo was the replacement for their star at QB and was totally ineffective.
Penn State took a 10-3 lead into half time and it could have been worse.
The Irish demonstrated the sport of Hurling at intermission instead of the traditional marching bands and it looked to be a fun sport to play or watch.
Then, they displayed the Irish game of road bowling. I’ll have to say it was an interesting half time show.
After one more shot with DiNovo at QB and one more failure, UCF replaced their QB with last year’s back up Justin Holman.
It’s hard to imagine what the UCF coaching staff was thinking. Holman is very clearly the superior QB with a much bigger arm. The Knights scored almost instantly with Holman after being dominated in the first half almost completely.
UCF had about 30 yards of total offense before switching QBs. Again, not sure what O’Leary’s staff was thinking with this. If not for their defense, Penn State would have and should have been up by 3 Touchdowns.
Completely different ball game and a lot more fun.
James Franklin’s debut was ruined by a 24-23 impressive comeback victory by UCF and former backup QB Justin Holman.
Very exciting finish in Ireland.
James Franklin era has begun in State College and it should be a good one.
Watching this game definitely gave me a taste to see Ireland and particularly Dublin. Beautiful scenery and so much history, and looks like it would be a fun vacation.