A precursor to the grading: I have no idea how to give an overall level of performance when you are looking at a horrible first quarter followed by a freight train second period. No one looked focused at the beginning of the game (even the line looked sloppy), but then as soon as the second quarter began, the "same old offense" from the first three games showed up. The only process I can come up with is to simply grade the better looking team and then bump everyone down depending on how awake (or not awake) they appeared to be during the first 15 minutes.
I commented above on a couple early letdowns (the busted play that led to Clark's fumble out of bounds, for example), but I simply can't ignore how dominant this line was and will most likely continue to be. There were holes up the middle that JoePa could have ran through and every time they pulled someone around to clear out a lane, it worked very effectively.
I was also very encouraged by they way they seemed to get better as the day went on. The Temple D-line was worn out in the second half and I think it's a testament to how hard the O-line is working. I also love that, with this line in front of him, Clark is automatic on third and one. That's going to come in very handy.
Final Grade: A
With the slow start and some sloppy passes from Clark, this has to be rated as his worst performance to date. The early fumble could have cost the team and he looked lazy on some of the shorter passes. When he was focused, he seemed to really be able to get the ball where it needed to be (the long pass to Butler, in stride, was a gem). An important note to make about Clark's running ability: he looks great when going downfield and less than stellar when trying to "dance" the line. If he puts his nose down and runs behind his blockers, he's as good as most team's running backs. However, if he loses his momentum and starts shifting left and right, he looks lost. This was part of what caused his fumble and hopefully the coaches can address it.
It's probably safe to chalk some of these errors up to looking ahead, and based on these quotes I believe it. He needs to be able to focus on the task at hand, however, I can't help but get a little excited about the way he is approaching the payback game against Zook this week.
You have to be totally fair to Devlin: no, he didn't look good at the end of the second half, but that's hardly a situation we should be judging him by. He was given two minutes, a long field, and very little time to try and impress the coaching staff. It was very clear he was forcing things (and really should have had two passes picked off), but I consider this more a function of the situation rather than an indicator of his ability. I think in a calmer environment he would be a lot more proficient. I am still very pleased he is on the team and would argue that he could be the best backup QB in the Big Ten.
Final Grade: C+
Another uneventful yet productive day from the receivers, something that we shouldn't ever complain about. This one was a lot more spread out than we are used to, with the Old Men WR core only catching seven passes between the three of them. Williams had a great catch in traffic and the receivers worked to get first downs on a lot of the short passes. A couple drops come to mind, including a very uncharacteristic one from Norwood that would have led to a first down. Williams looked good on the end-arounds although seems to have trouble sorting himself through traffic; it's almost like he is running too fast and then isn't able to make the shift when defenders approach.
The return of Quarless was promising, four catches for 50 yards. Brackett also had a good day, two for 32 yards and a TD. I think being able to spread the ball around is important, and with the threats in the backfield, I like the utilization of the 3rd and 4th receivers as well as the passes to the TEs.
Final Grade: B+
Every week I get more excited about the two (and really three) great options we have in the backfield. What's even more exciting is that Royster and Green both bring different styles to the offense, making them harder to stop when both are used effectively (which, so far, they are). Royster has the power game and ability to get out of tight spots, while Green is lightning fast on sweeps and hard to catch when ahead of the defense (the play by the Temple corner was fantastic, chasing Green down when he should have been gone for a TD).
It is hard to differentiate between the success of the line and the backs, but I have to think we are looking at the best of both worlds here. No unit appears to be carrying the other, and for every giant hole created by the line, there is a running back escaping an imminent tackler for an extra ten yards.
The Royster fumble inside the PSU 15 yard line would be devastating against a Big Ten team, and with that I have to drop them down out of the A range.
Final Grade: B+
I'm just going to say it: JayPa might have just pulled it off with this offense. Yes, he has quite a few weapons, but even with what I'm sure is a bit of a dumbed down playbook, the coaches are getting the ball all over the field with very little predictability and, as a result, everyone is finding that they have more room. Credit where credit is due.
Final Grade: Exceeding Expectations