Michigan OT Lewan's Stock Drops Against Penn State
I expected filet mignon.
I expected to be blown away by Taylor Lewan, Michigan’s All-American offensive tackle, against Penn State’s mediocre rotation of defensive ends.
At the very least, I expected to be impressed by the 6-foot-8, 315-pound behemoth, who constantly has been touted as a potential Top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
All I got was a half-assed performance for less than two quarters before Lewan left the game with a left leg injury.
In 29 snaps, he managed to show sound pass-blocking ability, but lacked a killer instinct.
On Michigan’s ninth play from the line of scrimmage, Lewan held his pass block against Penn State’s C.J. Olaniyan for three seconds and then gave up on the play. Olaniyan didn’t attempt any sort of pass move, but instead inherited a clear path to Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner.
It was shocking. A perennial All-American left tackle instantaneously became a matador who got his quarterback killed.
Olaniyan disemboweled Gardner upon impact, just a split-second after he passed the ball for a 59-yard touchdown to Devin Funchess. Gardner connected with Funchess in spite of Lewan’s effort, not because of it.
Lewan also was pushed around as a run blocker, which is hard to believe given his incredible size. Penn State’s DaQuan Jones, Anthony Zettel and Olaniyan regularly held their ground or pushed back Lewan as the offensive tackle never seemed to try.
If Lewan really is lacking effort, that's a mental problem, one that can be fixed by a change in attitude.
This game showed how good (and bad) Gardner and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg can be. Each threw a pair of interceptions, which netted the Nittany Lions 11 points.
Still, Gardner was 15 of 28 passing and gained a combined 361 through the air and on the ground, representing 92.8 percent of Michigan’s offense. Hackenberg threw for 305 yards and each quarterback threw three touchdown passes.
Just For Kicks
Make no mistake: Penn State escaped with a win in Happy Valley because Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons missed two would-be game-winning field goals and had another blocked.
A reliable kicker, Gibbons couldn’t connect Saturday.
However, Nittany Lions kicker Sam Ficken also missed two field goals. For whatever reason, Ficken’s kicks veered to the right like a right-handed batter’s slap single to right field.
Fortunately for Penn State, a pass interference call set up Bill Belton’s 2-yard game-winning touchdown run.
Despite 83 total points, the two offenses combined for 19 three-and-outs, not including Penn State’s failed fourth-down conversion attempt in the first quarter.
In fact, Michigan and Penn State combined for just five drives of more than 50 yards and converted 7 of 34 third downs.
Penn State has converted 27.8 percent of its third downs, better than only Miami of Ohio, Florida International, South Florida, Western Michigan, Kentucky, New Mexico State and Southern Mississippi.