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Grading the Penn State Offense Against Michigan

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Before this game we heard a lot of things about the Penn State offense. They hadn't played anybody. The offensive line was teh suck. The wide receivers weren't as good as last year. Daryll Clark never shows up in a big game. I hope they put a lot of that talk to rest on Saturday. Let's grade out the offense.


Some people are saying this was Daryll Clark's most complete game as a starter. I'm not sure about that. He was pretty good against Michigan State last year. But he was damn good on Saturday against Michigan.

vs Michigan / 10.24.09 Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yds TD Rush Yds Avg TD
Daryll Clark 16 27 60.0 230 4 7 13 1.9 0


And there were no interceptions to go with those numbers. It was a performance worthy of Big Ten Player of the Weekhonors. He made good decisions and showed some tremendous touch on fade pass to Zug in the corner of the endzone and on the 60 yard touchdown to Quarless. He was in complete control of the game. Michigan had no answer for the screen passes to Moye. And when they tried to cheat the safeties up to stop the run, Clark made them pay like a good quarterback does with a perfectly thrown ball to Andrew Quarless on the 60 yard touchdown. But he was a bit erratic at times especially in the second half.

Clark now has 17 touchdown passes on the season which ranks him third nationally. He is five touchowns away from tying the single season school record of 22 set by Todd Blackledge in 1982. I know I took some flak for saying this just before the Iowa debacle, but is it time we start mentioning Clark in the Heisman chase again? Here are his season stats.

Passing Rushing Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2009 - Daryll Clark 8 93.0 144 223 64.6 1884 235.5 8.4 17 7 42 132 16.5 3.1 4 - -


In a season lacking any clear Heisman front runners, I would put Clark's numbers up against anyone. I'm not saying he deserves the trophy at this point, because he's not the quarterback on a team ranked in the top five which is apparently etched as a requirement somewhere on the base of the trophy. But right now, barring another Iowa-type meltdown,  I think he has earned a seat at the Downtown Athletic Club in December. And I sooooo want to pwn Eleven Warriors for a day.

Final Grade: B+ 


Running Backs

Another solid day for Evan Royster.

vs Michigan / 10.24.09 Rushing Receiving
Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
Evan Royster 20 100 5 0 2 24 12 0


It didn't look he did much after that 40 yard gain on the opening drive, but he earned every yard he got. The offensive line didn't do him a ton of favors often getting beat at the point of attack, but Royster used his vision and cutback ability to turn no gains into four or five yard gains. But this is the third game in a row he hasn't found the endzone. He only has four touchdowns on the year with only one in Big Ten play. That's a bit disappointing.

Brandon Beachum got in the game and carried the ball seven times for 23 yards. He had some nice carries and gained 24 yards on Penn State's marathon 10 minute drive in the fourth quarter.

Final Grade: A


I suspected Michigan might pay extra attention to Derek Moye after his performance against Minnesota, and that they did blanketing him with their best cover corner. Still, he managed to gain 53 yards on 6 catches. He could have had more if not for some slips and poorly thrown balls by Clark. He was pretty much open all day.

I figured the attention on Moye would open up opportunities for some other guys, and Zug and Quarless took advantage. The tiny white possession receiver torched the Michigan secondary for 5 catches, 59 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

And of course Andrew Quarless is making that late push to be a high NFL draft pick. Besides 60 yard touchdown, Quarless also had that 31 yard catch that set up the touchdown right after the half. He was a key factor in taking a 12-7 game and breaking it open into a 25-10 game.

Final Grade: B+


Offensive Line

Here's where things turn ugly in this review. I was not at all impressed with the offensive line. Ako Poti looked terrible at right tackle. Brandon Grahampretty much owned him whenever he lined up on that side. Actually, it didn't matter who lined up over there, Poti got abused. I hope McCormack can come back next week.

Johnnie Troutmandidn't impress me much either. He had a few nice blocks, but he had equally as many not-so-great one. He single handedly killed the drive right before the half with two offsides penalties and two missed blocks.

And can someone explain to me our ineptitude at running a screen pass? There were three white shirts out there against one Michigan linebacker, and they let the guy make the tackle. How does that happen? This isn't the first time either. It's been like this all season. Our down field blocking leaves much to be desired.

Final Grade: D


Offensive Coaching

I have a few bones to pick this week. What was up with punting the ball from the Michigan 33 yard line on fourth and three? Boone managed to pin them inside the ten, and Joe later looked like a genius when Michigan snapped the ball out the back of the endzone. But I think you have to go for it there. Your offense is having a lot of success in moving the ball there. The sooner you can break the game open and force Michigan's offense to abandon the running game the better off you will be. It was classic Joe pucking up on the road, and I didn't agree with the call.

My second beef came after Penn State scored the first touchdown after the half to take a 25-10 lead. I did not agree with going for two points there. I know they were thinking a 17 point lead meant Michigan needed two touchdowns and a field goal to tie, but the extra point forces them to score two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to tie. Put the onus on them to make the two point conversions. It was too early in the game to be playing that kind of numbers game. On the road, just take the extra point.

Finally, after the final touchdown I thought the offense went too conservative. You could just tell that Joe told them to run between the tackles and that's it. The first drive got stopped in three plays, and then Boone had the punt blocked. So do you think they would come out on the next drive and be a little more aggressive? Nope. In fact, let's just feature a bigger running back this time. Up the middle to Royster. Up the middle to Suhey for a two yard loss. Short pass to Suhey short of the sticks. Let's give them another shot to block a punt.

That blocked punt scared me to death. It was just the kind of play Michigan needed to get a spark. The next time we got the ball I would have done everything I could to gain some big chunks of yards. Especially with Michigan stacking the box looking for the run. But Penn State was undeterred and even came out on the next drive in conservative mode. They pounded away for 10 minutes to kill the clock, but needed a roughing the kicker penalty to keep the drive going. Thankfully Michigan got a little too aggressive in trying to block another one.

Final Grade: C