The Penn State offense already had problems moving the ball and finding the end zone. And now it must make do without arguably its best weapon.
Wide receiver Derek Moye will miss at least the next two games after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot when he slipped on some stairs at his apartment. Nittany Lions officials say Moye could return for the Oct. 29 game against Illinois, but a broken foot is never a good injury for receivers. Who knows how quickly Moye will recover, or whether he'll be able to resume his full quickness and cutting ability.
Moye, a 6-foot-5 senior, is one of the best deep threats in the Big Ten. He's far and away the best receiver Penn State has, and he'll finish his career ranked among the best wideouts in school history. He has 28 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns this season, numbers which would surely be better if the team's quarterbacks were playing more consistently well. Matt McGloin seemed to look for Moye and have a much better connection with him than Rob Bolden.
Only one other receiver on the Penn State roster has more than eight catches this year, and that's Justin Brown (19 for 225 yards). The junior will now be asked to take on a larger role in the offense as the No. 1 target in the passing game. Devon Smith and Bill Belton might have to increase their contributions as well.
For sure, it's a big setback for an offense that has averaged just 21.5 points per game and has scored a total of 29 points in its first two Big Ten games (albeit both were victories). Penn State must hope that the performance of its offensive line last Saturday against Iowa was a good sign of things to come and that it can rely heavily on its running game with Silas Redd. Tailback Brandon Beachum, out the past three games with a sprained foot, is also expected to return from injury this week, so that helps.
The Nittany Lions will remain favorites against Purdue, but the Northwestern game on Oct. 22 looks more challenging now. As poor as the Wildcats' defenses looks, their offense can put up points on most people behind Dan Persa. And if Moye isn't full go for the Illinois game, that could be a big problem, too.
Penn State is 5-1 this season based on its formula of outstanding defense combined with just enough offense. It may need to lean on that defensive side of the equation even more for at least the next two games.