I figure we'll do something a little different this year after each game and grade the different units on the scale of 1 to 10. Today we'll start with the offense. Later I'll do a second post covering the defense and special teams.
Quarterbacks - 8 out of 10
I thought Anthony Morelli did a fantastic job. He completed 60% of his passes for 295 yards, 3 TD, and 0 INT. The running game struggled early so it was on him to make some throws. He completed five throws to convert third downs into first downs. Two of those went for touchdowns and one was a 29 yard strike to Jordan Norwood on 3rd and 15. I thought he handled the pass rush extremely well. Last year he would have spun in a circle and lost 15 yards or thrown it downfield into double coverage. On Saturday he casually sidestepped the oncoming defender to change the angle and give himself more time. It's evident the game has really slowed down for him.
It's hard to find anything to knock him with, but there were a few things I noticed. I thought early on he was maybe too quick to check down. He was dumping the ball off to his outlet when it appeared there wasn't any pressure on him to do so. Then as the game wore on it looked like he was getting impatient at doing this and forced a few balls he maybe shouldn't have. The third quarter is always his bug-a-boo for this. On one play he should have dumped it off to a wide open Matt Hahn for an easy five yard gain on first down. He knew it and pump faked to Hahn but didn't pull the trigger and ended up taking a sack he shouldn't have. Anthony still needs to focus on sticking to the gameplan and taking what the defense gives him. But he still played a great game.
Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin saw some action in mop up time. Both did well mostly handing off the ball. Clark completed both of his pass attempts and Devlin's lone pass attempt was a deep fade route that fell harmlessly out of bounds.
Running Backs - 7 out of 10
The running game struggled early. According to Paterno, FIU was stacking the line and doing some stunting that gave the offensive line some problems and didn't give the running backs much time to move. But adjustments were made, the Panters got tired, and the running game rolled in the second half.
I thought Austin Scott still looked a little hesitant running the ball. He had one pass thrown his way and he dropped it. But his pass blocking looked much improved from what I remember. I'll chalk up his performance to first game jitters. Once he settled in he played pretty well busting off a 20 yard run and ended the day with 46 yards and 2 TD.
Rodney Kinlaw looked really good. He was getting the ball on the outside and making some plays. He finished the day as the leader in all purpose yards gaining 66 yards on the ground and 34 yards through the air. He also scored a touchdown, but takes a hit in the grades for fumbling the ball away.
Evan Royster got to play late in the game. Granted it's FIU and they were extremely tired and beat up by then, but he looked fantastic. He was hitting the hole hard, making his way through traffic and using his blockers extremely well. He finished the day as the leading rusher averaging over eight yards per carry and scored a touchdown. He's going to be a big time back in a few years.
Matt Hahn and Dan Lawlor did a good job as the fullbacks. Lawlor had five carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. Hahn caught a one yard pass for a touchdown.
Receivers - 8 out of 10
It was really a team effort on Saturday. As expected, Penn State shuffled guys in and out on almost every play. Nobody put in a dominating performance, but everyone did a good job of getting open and catching the ball.
Jordan Norwood was the leading receiver. I'm starting to think this may be a trend of things to come. He's really shifty at finding the open gaps in the zone defense and he's got fantastic hands despite the one or two drops and the fumble he had this week.
Terrell Golden started off the game with the opening touchdown and then mostly disappeared. Derrick Williams and Deon Butler were mostly unnoticeable in the game though they did combine for seven catches and 97 yards. Chris Bell was a complete non-factor only catching one ball for eight yards. There was one play in particular where the ball was thrown his way and it looked like he completely gave up on the route which was very disappointing.
Mickey Shuler did a great job filling in for the suspended Andrew Quarless catching four balls for 54 yards and a TD. That's production I don't think anyone expected.
Offensive Line - 7 out of 10
Like I said, they struggled to open running lanes early in the game. Paterno wrote this up to FIU stacking the line and running some stunts. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one since FIU has a new coaching staff and nobody knew what to expect. Paterno said they made adjustments and things appeared to open up later in the game as Penn State finished with 236 yards rushing.
I thought they did a great job at pass blocking as the quarterbacks had plenty of time to throw the ball. They only gave up two sacks and truthfully one of those Morelli brought on himself as I mentioned before.
They played a clean game with only
one holding penalty and one illegal procedure by the second string. (ed. note - The holding penalty was on Chris Bell. Mea Cupla.)Overall they played a good game, but they didn't dominate.
Offensive Coaching - 9 out of 10
Given the fact FIU had a new coaching staff and the Penn State coaches had no film to review they did a good job. They recognized early that the running game wasn't working so they cut Anthony Morelli loose to throw the ball. The play calling was much more diverse than a year ago. We saw posts and slants across the middle. I was particularly impressed with red zone execution. You remember how last year we struggled to score points only managing to score on 76% of our red zone chances. On Saturday the Lions were a perfect 9-for-9 in the redzone. Instead of trying to bash Austin Scott up the middle play after play like we did last year we saw fade routes and screen passes mixed in with power running. Just an overall great job in redzone play calling and execution.