Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (23) Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: A fan looks on as Penn State players make their way into the stadium before playing Nebraska in a college football game at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Head football coach Joe Paterno was fired amid allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. Penn State is playing their final home football game against Nebraska. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2012 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 61 teams and their 2012 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

UPDATE (July 31, 2012): Penn State announced yesterday that Jack Forster received a waiver from the NCAA and will have an extra year of eligibility in 2013. So, yeah. Forster and Sturgis are nice pieces to build around next season.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Penn State Nittany Lions

2012 Record: 9-6 (5-1, THUNDERDOME!)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.00 (12)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.15 (20)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +10.00%

2012 Efficiency Margin: 2.88 (23)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: +1.26

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Once again Penn State managed to consume the will of opposing offenses. When all was said and done, the Lions finished the year ranked ninth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and it was the totality of the defense that pushed that ranking: Only two teams had a better ride rate than Penn State; the unit finished the year ranked 12th in the nation in caused turnovers per defensive possession; Austin Kaut -- The Blonde Satan -- was a horse in the net, holding a save percentage of 58.4 (sixth nationally) and ending about 36 percent of Penn State's defensive possessions with a stop (that mark was good for 13th nationally); and teams had a hell of a time canning the bean against the Lions, connecting on only 25.15 percent of their attempts (a mark that came in eighth in the country at the end of the season). It was a full-field approach to defense that: (1) ended possessions before they could functionally progress and attempt to expose Austin Kaut; and (2) yielded offenses impotent because of Kaut's ability and the six guys out in front of him that did a decent job at limiting attempts (the team finished 31st in shots per defensive possession) and controlling preferred shots (in defensive assist rate the Lions were slightly stronger than the national average). This is lunch pail lacrosse at its finest and Penn State flourished in it (even if it led to static watchability).

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • Jeff Tambroni is still rolling with a fairly pedestrian offense that, arguably, took a step back from where it was in 2011. There are three kinds of things that really stuck out about Penn State's "Meh" Offensive: (1) The team released far too many saveable shots (only three teams saw opposing goalies make more stops per possession and only nine teams had a more difficult time with their shooting accuracy in 2012 than the Lions); (2) Despite Matt Mackrides' emergence as one of the better offensive weapons in the country, Shane Sturgis didn't build upon his terrific freshman campaign they way that was expected (Sturgis is still a weapon but didn't increase his production as anticipated (there was actually a production decrease from the rising junior from 2011 to 2012)); and (3) the offense is still struggling to find ways to share the ball and generate tallies (only eight teams relied less on assisted tallies to generate scores than Penn State). Penn State loses Mackrides and Jack Forster going into 2013, and some of that offensive youth is going to have to come along if the Lions hope to balance their overall team capabilities.

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • Sit in a chair in the corner and stay the hell out of Jeff Tambroni's way. There are few guys that I trust to get the job done more than Tambroni. Things are starting to come together for the head coach in State College, and while things can be ugly under the Penn State flag, this is likely more a result of building the program and working with what he currently has. The offense is eventually going to need to develop -- and there are some nice pieces there to build upon in 2013 -- but in the overall, Tambroni has things going in the right direction at a nice velocity.

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