The hard part here is to remember the context, it was Coastal Carolina. Penn State was charged with replacing a two year QB and 1300 yard rusher, it looks like they did a good job.
The one thing people weren't worried much about was this unit. They are starting four seniors and played like it.
None of the three players who lined up behind center were sacked, despite what seemed like a relatively high number of passing plays that were run in our new wishbone offense. No false starts from the starters, and just one on the day (fourth quarter). They also were flagged for just one holding call, on a goaline play in the second quarter.
I'd love to dive into some of the negatives here but there is nothing really worth reporting. The quarterbacks looked strong and had time to pass. Royster, Green and Carter all averaged over 7.4 ypc.
Final Grade: A
Clark opened the game and didn't show any of the jitters you might expect from a first time starter. He threw to six different players in his first four series and didn't record an incompletion until 2:50 in the first quarter. Devlin came in relief in the second quarter and immediately throws a 40 yard beauty to Norwood. He would finish 5/8 for 83 yards. Even Cianciolo was an impressive 3/4 for 31. No interceptions were thrown. Everyone looked confident.
The offensive coaches decided to focus on the pass last Saturday, neither Clark nor Devlin recorded a rushing attempt, and one of the biggest question marks surrounding this team was answered in an assuring way. Both players absolutely can pass.
We still have some questions about how effective both can be on the ground, and so with that I'm withholding an absolute OMG conclusion. I don't remember Clark being in a blocking situation, so this may not be fair, but I did find myself thinking Devlin wasn't really committing to his blocks. It could be nothing, and he is a quarterback after all, but when your passers go 19/26 for 260, these are the types of things we have to talk about.
Final Grade: A
Probably the highlight of the day was the play of the running backs. While most teams are happy to see one guy emerge as a solid back, Penn State appears to have (at least) four solid guys who are all capable of contributing on the ground.
Royster, Carter, Green and Beachum combined for six touchdowns and all bolstered a ridiculous YPC averages. The offensive line was given partial credit above, but all four of these guys are great runners. They were moving down field both between the tackles and on the outside.
Before we move on, the "who is this guy?" award goes to Chaz Powell, who was given the ball on a sweep, took a couple steps away from the line of scrimmage, and then absolutely burned it down the sideline for a 55 yard touchdown. There are five guys on this team that could probably get it done at running back.
Final Grade: A+
Probably the least exciting part of the offense was the play of the receivers, although I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. There were no notable dropped passes, that's worth pointing out, and just about everyone was able to get open (there were thirteen different players who caught passes on Saturday).
The three 9th year starters, Williams, Butler and Norwood, all looked good. Clark was able to get Butler a couple passes in stride, and so seeing him run after the catch was a bit of a different look compared to the Morelli era. Norwood and Williams both were able to turn in a couple of long receptions.
The one fear we had with Clark as the starter is that he won't be able to spread the field lengthwise enough to open up the ground game. With six different receivers turning in 15 yard+ receptions, and two 20 yard+ passes to Norwood and Williams, we gained a little more assurance about the diversity of this offense. The receivers didn't skip a beat when Devlin came in, with Norwood part of that impressive 40 yard pass and Derek Moye stretching it out for 27. While a two QB system may not be what we end up with, it was nice to see no noticeable loss of momentum when the QB switch was made in the second quarter.
The one less exciting thing is probably the lack of after the catch yards. Most were able to add a little extra room to their catches, but it was rare to see a guy make a catch and then shed his defender for the break-a-way. I'll take a no-drops, no-fumbles kind of receiving core all day, but there are always things to work on.
Final Grade: B+
This is just worth barely touching on simply because creative play calling is not something we would expect, or really want, in this cupcake opener. I liked that the coaches were able to get production out of so many different players, and was happy to see that the day would be spend working on pass plays rather than QB keepers. Although relatively insignificant, I thought the red zone TD pass to Norwood was encouraging; the team had a horrible time getting TDs in the red zone in 2007, and I like that they have a couple pass plays available to keep opposing defenses honest.
Final Grade: Satisfactory