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Grading the Penn State Offense Against Northwestern

It was slow to get started, but eventually the Penn State offense came to life in the fourth quarter and scored three touchdowns on three consecutive offensive snaps.


Another fantastic stat line for the senior captain.

vs Northwestern / 10.31.09 Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yds TD Rush Yds Avg TD
Daryll Clark 22 31 70.0 274 1 6 16 2.7 1


It shocks me to see commentary on some of the Penn State message boards about Daryll Clark not looking very impressive. Excuse me, but, what else do you want? He's on pace to smash just about every single season passing record in Penn State history. He's about to take the career passing touchdown record. He's leading the conference in passing efficiency, and he's No. 14 in the nation. He has now gone three games without throwing an interception, and he's only thrown one interception in his past five games. I don't see how he can play much better than this.

On Saturday, I can't think of any glaring mistakes. He made good decisions. His throws were right on time with the pattern. He tucked the ball and ran when he needed to. He spread the ball around completing passes to ten different recievers. Even his fakes score points. Royster's long touchdown run was set up by a pump fake to a wide receiver in the flat. It froze the linebackers and pulled the safeties out of position opening up the middle for Royster's scamper. Clark is just playing at an incredibly high level right now.

Final Grade: A



It's hard to believe that Derek Moye is just a sophomore. Saturday was his third 100 yard receiving game of the season. He and Daryll Clark appear to be completely in sync right now. Take a look at his stats for the season.

G Rec Yds Y/G AVG TD
9 39 648 72.0 16.6 5


With three games and a bowl game, he only needs 88 yards per game to eclipse 1000 yards on the year. He can pass the mark in the regular season with 117 yards per game. If you're counting at home, Bobby Engram has the school record for single season receiving yards with 1084. It's a difficult mark to reach from here, but it's achievable.

Graham Zug had an off day. He had four catches for 34 yards, but he also dropped a wide open pass that would have gone for a big gain, and dropped an easy touchdown in the endzone. Also, what's up with fair catching a punt at the six yard line?

Eight other guys caught passes in the game. It was a really good team effort.

Final Grade: B+ 

Running Backs

Royster had trouble finding room to run through much of the game. Northwestern was stuffing the box with eight defenders to slow him down. Many of his early yards came when he ran away from the designed direction of the play. But the deep pass to Moye loosened things up. Northwestern was paying a ton of attention to the flankers, so when Clark pump faked a bubble screen and handed Royster the ball on a draw play, there was nothing but 69 yards of grass between him and the endzone.

vs Northwestern / 10.31.09 Rushing Receiving
Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
Evan Royster 15 118 7.9 1 1 7 7 0


Brandon Beachumeven got in the game for a few carries to give Royster a rest. He finished with an impressive 25 yards and a touchdown on only four carries.

Final Grade: A

Offensive Line

Once again I was not impressed. I mentioned that many of Roysters yards came on his own. They did a lot of pulling with Landolt and Troutman, but Wisniewski and Eliades weren't getting much push so the end effect was Landolt and Troutman just getting in Royster's way. But then Northwestern only recorded three TFL and one sack, and the Wildcats were stuffing the box, and Penn State did manage 163 yards rushing, so maybe it's not as bad as I think it is. But I'm scared as Hell thinking about the Buckeye defensive line this Saturday.

Final Grade: B


Offensive Coaching

I wasn't impressed with the play calling in the early going. It was a lot of running into the eight man brick wall and short passes designed to pick up six or seven yards. This was partly due to Penn State's poor starting position on the field the entire first half. We all know Joe Paterno hates to take chances on his 20 yard line.

But the key drive started with just under seven minutes to go in the second quarter. That's when Penn State said, "Screw it. We're done trying to run the ball." They took over at their own 7 yard line and tried to pass the ball on every play of a 93 yard drive that ended in a touchdown. They came out and tried to pass on three straight plays of their next drive. Though that drive went three and out, the message was sent loud and clear to Northwestern. If you are going to stack the box, we will throw on every single down if we have to. Penn State found the Northwestern defense much easier to work with in the second half because of it.

The touchdown pass to Moye and the draw play to Royster were brilliantly set up and executed.

Final Grade: B