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Grading the Penn State Offense Against Eastern Illinois

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You all get lucky today. My kid's soccer game got cancelled, so I watched the Penn State game. So you all get a review today. Let's get to it.

Quarterbacks

Daryll Clark was sensational completing 13 of 19 passes for 234 yards and 3 TD. But then I would be worried if he were anything less than sensational against Eastern Illinois. Other than being a little erratic in the redzone on Penn State's second possession, his lone mistake was the interception, and it was an ugly play. He recognized the blitz was coming and looked at Quarless for the short outlet. And he looked. And he looked. And he looked some more. Then I think he even pointed at Quarless and yelled, "Hey, I'm going to throw it there!" Then he threw it and it was intercepted. Let's try not to do that next time, mmmkay?

But let's talk about Mr. Newsome who saw his most extended action of the year. Saturday was more confirmation about some things we already suspected. Newsome is an electrifying runner. It seems like he can go from standing still to top speed in about two steps. And he's a big kid that's tough to bring down. I must admit, when I see him running in that No. 12 jersey, I see a lot of Michael Robinson. Having him in the backfield next year with Evan Royster and Stephfon Green with an experienced offensive line just might be unstoppable. That's the good part.

On the flip side, I saw something else that reminded me of Michael Robinson, but this isn't a good thing. Newsome has a long way to go in refining his mechanics. He throws off his back foot a lot, and he's a little partial to doing the sidearm wrist-flick-thing. And yes, I saw a lot of arm punts. The other thing that bothered me is the way he carries the ball. He had two fumbles in his short time on the field, and there were a few other carries where he let ball separate from his body leaving him susceptible to another fumble. Just looking at the picture to the right makes me nervous with the way he's carrying the ball. He's got to tighten that up, or else that electrifying running ability will be quickly negated.

Final Grade: B

 

Running Backs


I can't think of anything particularly spectacular the running backs did. They didn't fumble, so that's good. I think Royster did a good job of reading his blocks and making the right cuts this week. He looked more like 2008 Royster than 2009 Royster. It looks like he's starting to gain confidence in his offensive line again. He finished the day with 94 yards on 8 carries for a whopping 11.8 yards per carry.

Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum looked equally impressive averaging 7.2 and 7.0 yards per carry respectively. I still don't know what to think about Green though. It just seems like he either gets impatient and runs past his blockers or he gets too patient and just dances until somebody tackles him. But when he times it correctly and puts it all together it almost seems like he's going to take it to the house on every play. More of that, please.

Final Grade: A

Wide Receivers

Unquestionably, the most pleasant surprise for me this year has been Chaz Powell. I must admit, I was not expecting much from him when the season began. My estimation was based on his performance last year when all I saw was a kid that ran end arounds and dropped half the passes thrown his way. But he has made a lot of progress and he's looking like a regular Derrick Williams out there. Saturday he had four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. I was really impressed with his 51 yard touchdown pass. The throw from Clark was short, but Powell did a good job of adjusting to the ball and shielding the defender with his body. Then he showed some great concentration to catch the ball while the defender was hanging on him. And does anyone think Deon Butler or Derrick Williams could have fended off that contact and remained on their feet to walk in the endzone? I don't.

From what I saw Saturday, Justin Brown is going to be a star before his career is over. He caught everything thrown his way including a nice diving catch out of bounds. He threw a key block on Stephfon Green's 26 yard touchdown, and he even had Penn State's biggest punt return of the season for 18 yards. I think he has definitely earned the right to see more playing time going forward.

I felt great for Brett Brackett. After struggling to see the field and break out of his slump all season, he finally caught a touchdown pass. But then I felt bad for him because the announcer credited it to Mickey Shuler.

Final Grade: A

 

Offensive Line

Nothing special here. You expect a Div. IA offensive line to dominate an FCS team, and that's what Penn State did. But there were a couple of false starts, including one that killed the second drive forcing State to kick a field goal. So no perfect grade this week, guys.

Final Grade: B

 

Offensive Coaching

Eh, it's Eastern Illinois. But I was impressed with the motivation. It would have been easy for the team to pack it in and just go through the motions against this team. Credit the coaches for getting them motivated and focused to play this team. It looks like the team did a good job of shaking off the Iowa loss and coming together.

I was glad to see a lot of younger players get in the game, but I felt like they could have got Newsome in there earlier. He really should have started the second half, but Paterno went with Clark. The offense went 3-and-out, and I think Paterno didn't want them ending on a bad note like that, so Clark took the next series. I kind of predicted this was going to happen somewhere in the comments. Clark took a nasty shot on that last drive which pretty much infuriated me. There was no need to have him in there when they were up 38-3. It's not like Eastern Illinois was coming back.

Final Grade: B