Such is the perception of low-scoring games in the shootout era, which might owe in part to rules changes enacted to make things easier for offenses and to keep scoreboard operators busy. Old-fashioned defensive struggles - and any game in which the two teams combine for 24 points probably would fit that description - tend to be dismissed as "boring," or worse.
Worse, in this instance, is the perception that one or both teams involved are offensively inept, stagecoach-slow and hopelessly out of sync with yardage-gulping, pinball-machine schemes when the Internet and satellite communications have made for the instant exchange of ideas and information. In football, fans with short attention spans and a need for constant excitement demand long-gainers, frequent trips to the end zone, and offensive records falling like tall grass to a scythe.
After the Nittany Lions' 14-10 escape against the Owls, Penn State's sputtering offense is trolling at or near the bottom of most NCAA and Big Ten Conference statistical categories, in contrast to the numbers being posted by a very capable defense that might even border on elite status.
With another Mid-American Conference opponent, Eastern Michigan (2-1), next up for the Nits (2-1) on Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium, EMU coach Ron English sort of suggested that Penn State's offensive philosophy is, well, a bit predictable.
"Penn State doesn't change much over the years," said English, who was a Michigan assistant coach on Lloyd Carr's staff from 2003 through 2007. "I've coached against coach Hall [Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall] five times. I see them running very similar plays to what they always have. I know philosophically what they want to do."
English also noted that the Penn State way is to "play good, sound offensive football, to not turn the ball over, to run the ball and to throw it a little bit, too," but his appreciation of what his Eagles will face centered more on the loaded defense that limited Temple to no points and 71 net yards in the second half.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, in his weekly teleconference with statewide media, didn't necessarily dispute English's assessment of what many believe to be a plain-vanilla attack. But, he said, being able to execute plays successfully in any base offense is a bigger key to getting the job done than to overly tinker with a tried-and-true format.
"There's nothing wrong with that," Paterno said of an offense operating mostly within its particular comfort zone. "I'm not going to disagree with [English]. I think there comes a point when you're coaching that you know what tendencies the other [team] has, and you adjust. And we have. That doesn't concern me.
"I think the schemes we have are good. We just have to keep pecking away at it. Are we struggling? Yeah. Do we have to do better? Yeah. But we're probably not as bad as most people think."
The stats suggest that maybe Penn State is that bad. Out of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Lions rank 103rd in yards per game (306.0), tied for 90th in points per game (22.0) and 106th in passing yards per game (158.0). They are one of only six teams - Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham, San Jose State, Oregon State and Central Florida are the others - which have yet to be credited with a touchdown pass.
Imagine how low those numbers might be were it not for the season-opening, 41-7 rout of Indiana State.
Paterno, however, said offensive productivity is down because not every team has had to slug it out with third-ranked Alabama, which might have the best defense in the country, and an underrated Temple squad that that has allowed 24 points in three games.
Playing with heavy heart
Grieving, fifth-year senior tight end Andrew Szczerba elected to play against Temple, the day after his uncle, 18-year New Castle (Del.) Police Sgt. Joseph Szczerba, 44, youngest brother of Andrew Szczerba's father, Edward Szczerba, was killed in the line of duty when he was stabbed trying to subdue a resident in the Penn Acres community.
"You never forget those things and you can't put them behind you," Joe Paterno said. "I hope it won't affect the youngster in a way that would [impact] his college life and a chance to be a good football player here and beyond."
Drake status uncertain
Joe Paterno said he is not sure if wide receiver Curtis Drake will play again this season. Curtis, of West Catholic High, is recovering from a broken leg. "I don't want to say one way or the other right now," Paterno said. "We've only had the Monday [practice]. We didn't work that hard yesterday. There's some things there that still have to be resolved for me to know for sure."