Grading the Offense - Oregon State

In the wake of the 66 point barrage against Coastal Carolina there was talk about this team being the best offensive Penn State team since 1994. More talk on that later. Let's review their performance against Oregon State.

Quarterbacks

Daryll Clark has drawn a lot of comparisons to Michael Robinson ever since he rushed for 60 yards against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl. I must admit, if he had been wearing a #12 jersey on Saturday you could have convinced me the earth had passed through a rift in the space-time continuum and taken us back to 2005. Of course, if that had happened would we be aware we had gone back in time? Or we just think it was 2005? How sure are we this is 2008? Maybe it's 2010 and Pat Devlin is the starting quarterback and we don't know it.

But I'm pretty sure that was Daryll Clark out there on Saturday, and I'm pretty sure he pretty much kicked ass. He looked poised and confident sitting in the pocket. But he looked equally poised in the few times he had to escape pressure. Some times he rolled to the outside and passed downfield. Some times he tucked it under and ran. He certainly didn't look like a guy in his second career start. His stat line was very Michael Robinsonesque.


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yds TD Rush Yds Avg TD
Daryll Clark 14 23 60.9 215 2 5 61 12.2 1


But here are the most important stats to me: The offense, when led by Clark, converted eight of their nine third down attempts and scored touchdowns on five of the first six drives in the game. If I have one knock on Clark it was that some of his passes were a bit high and floated a bit too much for my liking. He'll have to get that in line before the conference slate begins.

 

With Clark playing so well it was hard to justify pulling him out in favor of Pat Devlin, but Pat did manage to get into the game late in the third quarter with the rest of the second team offense. By then the game was well in hand and Joe wasn't going to let him open up the offense too much. Two of his three passes came on 3rd and long when the defense was pretty much expecting it.


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yds TD Rush Yds Avg TD
Pat Devlin 0 3 0.0 0 0 1 1 1.0 0


Final Grade: A-

 

 

Running Backs

It's time to start talking about Evan Royster in the upper echelon of Big Ten running backs. He reminds me a lot of Terrell Davis back when he rushed for 2000 yards for the Denver Broncos. He's tough between the tackles and can lower his shoulder for an extra yard. He's got the speed to break to the sideline and turn the corner around a defender. And when he gets in the open he almost shifts into an overdrive gear where his running style looks completely relaxed but he's still running away from the defense. He is a total package running back unlike any we've seen since Larry Johnson. It's just too bad we have so many weapons on offense he'll never see 25-30 carries a game.


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Rushing Receiving
Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
Evan Royster 17 141 8.3 3 0 0 0 0


Stephfon Green got in for 11 carries, most of them in garbage time, but he just couldn't seem to get anything going. As I watched the coaches keep bashing this small speed back up the middle I kept wondering if they were trying not to run up the score or if they were trying to send the kid a message on what he needs to work on to humble him a bit.

 


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Rushing Receiving
Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
Stephfon Green 11 19 1.7 0 0 0 0 0


But any time your lead back averages 8 yards per carry and scores three touchdowns you're going to grade out well. But only the fumble at the one yard line keeps him from getting a perfect score.

 

Final Grade: A-

 

Receivers

We've seen this so many times over the past three years with the trio of Butler, Williams, and Norwood. One guy catches everything in sight and the other two leave you wondering if they even played as you're walking out of the stadium. This week it was Norwood's turn to carry the load in catching eight passes for a career high 116 yards and a touchdown.


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Receiving
Rec Yards Avg TD
Jordan Norwood 8 116 14.5 1


Williams did catch a pretty pass for 20 yards that would have been an easy touchdown had he not lost his balance tip-toeing down the sideline. And Butler had a nice 24 yard catch to put Penn State in nice scoring position at the eight yard line. Too bad Royster fumbled the ball away on the next play.

 

If there was a second star in the receiving corp it has to be tight end Mickey Shuler who took full advantage of the added reps with Quarless once again firmly entrenched in Joe's doghouse. One of his three catches went for a touchdown, and the other two earned first downs.


vs Oregon St. / 9.6.08 Receiving
Rec Yards Avg TD
Mickey Shuler 3 48 16.0 1

 

Final Grade: B


Offensive Line

Totally utterly dominating. I can't think of any other way to describe this offensive line. 239 yards rushing and for the second week in a row there were no sacks allowed. Clark only had a minimal amount of pressure to deal with all day long. And I can't think of any boneheaded penalties yet in the first two games.

Final Grade: A

 

Offensive Coaching

The preparation was spectacular. The execution was nearly perfect. The playcalling was excellent. I wish they had worked Devlin in there somewhere in the first half while the game was still in question, but with Clark playing so well it's hard to bench him so I'm willing to look the other way on this one. The people who were still saying Pat Devlin should be the starter after the Coastal Carolina game should have nothing to complain about this week.

Final Grade: A

 

Final Thoughts

So is this offense better than 1994? I'm not ready to make that leap just yet. The 1994 offense is arguably the greatest offense ever in the history of college football. That team scored at will. Every play was a potential touchdown and it didn't matter where they snapped the ball on the field. Typical drives would cover 80 yards in four plays just elapsing two mintues off the clock. Not only did they rarely face a 3rd and long situation, they rarely faced third downs. That was a big play offense, and they did it against USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois (when they were actually good) and Wisconsin. It didn't matter who the opponent was.

This offense, while good, is different. This is a methodical offense that can cover ground in ten and fifteen yard chunks, but thus far it's not a big play offense. And to this point through two opponents the level of the competition is still questionable. When we roll up 63 points on Ohio State I'll be convinced they're better than the 1994 squad. But we're still very good and I think we're in for a heckuva season.

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