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Grading the Penn State Offense Against Illinois

Quarterback - What we've probably learned is that Daryll Clark is a much better quarterback when he's not under heavy fire. Some guys thrive on being able to move out of the pocket, and considering Clark's running ability (which we'll get to in a second) you'd think he would be that kind of guy. The reality is he likes sitting back and finding receivers, and he's also good at it.

It was a slow start, but Clark was eventually finding guys downfield and dumping off to the tight ends when nothin' was doing. The improvement over last week in the passing game obvious, and the confidence helps. He finished with a 68 percent completion percentage, almost double that of last week, and picked up 175 yards through the air with no picks. The average was low, relatively speaking, but I think he scored a 7.0 ypa the right way, with short, accurate passes to safe targets for first downs (the team picked up 25 total and was 8-12 on third).

And the running. The running was great. The turning point in the game was his 52-yard draw where the seas completely opened up in the middle for him. He earned his share of it too, reminding Illinois by the end of the run that he is in fact a 233-pound quarterback. He finished with 7 attempts, 83 yards, and of course two one yarders that make the red zone a lot more manageable. Welcome back Running Clark, it's good to have you.

Final Grade: A

The Line - Probably the most relieving aspect of the afternoon was the development of the o-line in the second half. The team averaged a staggering 8.5, helped by two 50+ yard runs but still amazingly high considering the struggles in the first half. Royster was brick-walled over and over again on short yardage plays early, and there didn't seem to be any push at all into the d-line. But them two things happened: Green was put in for those types of plays, and Clark as a runner was all of the sudden on the table. The result was second-half drives like this:


Reminds me of the days of Tony Hunt. Same play, over and over, they weren't as tough as us.

Grade: First Half C, Second Half A

Running Back - By far the best rushing performance of the season, and more importantly the emergence of Green as a potential every-down back. Royster wasn't converting, and maybe there is something to the hesitation we saw in last week's Still Life, because Green came in, hit the holes quick, and all of the sudden the between-the-tackles game opened right up. Royster was immediately more successful after being shown up by Green at his own game, and by the end of the game moving the ball was seemed somehow too easy.

Oh, and Brent Carter scored a touchdown, which is always a good sign.

Grade: A-

WR / TE - When you run for 338 yards that usually means the receivers weren't a big part of the story, and that's pretty much the case here. Moye led the way with 57 yards and Zug was the only other true receiver to pick up more than one catch. The tight ends were a big part of the gameplan: Shular and Quarless combined for eight caches and more yards than Moye. No real game changers -- the longest pass was just 22 yards and Penn State actually averaged fewer yards per catch than Illinois -- but you can't complain about consistency.

Grade: A-