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Grading the Offense - Youngstown State Edition

Before we can completely look ahead to Alabama, let's take a moment to review the performance of our offensive Nittany Lions.


If you didn't know that true freshman Robert Bolden (or Rob as the BTN announcers were calling him) was the real deal, now you do.  Bolden looked the part and had the stats to back it up, finishing the day 20-29 for 239 2 TDs and 1 INT.  The INT seemed to be his only mistake of the day.  He threw the ball to a spot (he was staring down Moye the entire time) but Moye was already on the ground and the Youngstown State corner made the play.  He wasn't asked to run at all, which is probably a good thing considering he looks like he weighs somewhere in between Devon Smith and Derek Moye.   

As we saw yesterday, Bolden has an absolute cannon for an arm and he is smart enough to go through his progressions, no small feat for an 18 year old.  He seemed to make big throws all day.  The most impressive throws were the post corner routes he threw to Zug (incomplete) Moye and Brackett (completed.)  If you were at the game, you were able to see that Bolden threw those passes before the receiver made the break for the corner.  That is some impressive stuff right there.  It also looks like, at least early on, that the coaches are going to use screen passes and quick passes to get Bolden confidence early in games.  Bolden has arrived at the front door, if he can kick it in against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, there will be no one doubting his ability the rest of the season.

We did get a chance to see Kevin Newsome late in the 4th quarter.  We also got to see the reason Bolden was named the starting QB.  Newsome did what we already knew he could do, run the ball like Michael Robinson.  He carried three times for 21 yards and 1 TD (QB sneak.)  His most impressive run of the day came on a busted play which he turned into a gain of 13 yards and took a big time shot.  However, on his only pass attempt, Newsome stared down his intended receiver from the snap and was late  (and high) on the throw.  Luckily for him, the defender interfered with the WR on the play. 

McGloin continued his free fall from presumed starter to third string mop up QB.  He entered the game with less than a minute left and handed off to Curtis Dukes for a gain a five.  This is the present and the future for Matthew McGloin

Final Grade: A

Running Backs

As impressive as Robert Bolden was, the running game was equally unimpressive.  Evan Royster was never able to get going finishing the day with 11 carries for 40 yards with a long of 13 yards.  YSU was obviously focused on making Bolden beat them, stacking the box for most of the game, but the run blocking, especially up the middle with Pannell and Klopacz.  Nothing seemed to go right with the running game and that is a major concern.  Luckily for Penn State they were only playing YSU and not Alabama. A lot has been made of the weight Royster put on this summer.  Suffice to say, it wouldn't have mattered what he weight yesterday, the holes simply weren't there (except on draw and misdirection runs.)

Stephfon Green finished the day with 6 carries for 32 yards and a TD.  Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the running game was the glimpse we got to see of true freshman Silas Redd.  Redd came in with Newsome in the 4th quarter and immediately took the hand off and bolted for 13 yards (the magic number for longest run of the day.)  On his next carry, Redd displayed some sick moves, including an amazing jump cut that left the defender clueless.  In total, Redd finished the day with 3 carries for 20 yards.  The future is bright for Silas Redd, hopefully he get some more opportunities this season.  Against YSU, he was the best RB on the field.

Penn State rotated fullbacks with Joe Suhey getting the start and Michael Zordich seeing significant playing time during the game.  They each got one carry and gained a total of 6 yards.

Final Grade: C-

Wide Receivers

At first glance against Youngstown State,  it looked like Joe Jurevicius still had some unused eligibility.  Your eyes did not deceive you, Brett Brackett was a beast on offense finishing the day with 8 catches for 98 yards and 2 TDs (Brackett only had 3 catches for 13 yards and 1 TD all of 2009.)  Bolden found Brackett early and often.  Brackett lined up at the slot WR, but he looked almost like a hybrid TE.  It was great to see Bolden find someone he can trust, hopefully captain Brett can keep it up.

The usual suspects didn't quite have the days you would expect.  Graham Zug finished the day with zero catches and an almost TD on a slightly overthrown pass from Bolden.  Former starting CB, now 5th receiver Chaz Powell did not have a catch, but did have the biggest play of the day; a 100 yard kick return TD at the start of the second half.  Moye finished the day with 5 catches for 61 yards and everyone's favorite little man, Devon Smith finished with 1 catch for 27 yards.Justin Brown emerged as a potential candidate to fill the Graham Zug role from 2009.  Penn State displayed good depth with eight players seeing action when the game still mattered.

The passing game wasn't all roses.  Bolden was a victim of several dropped passes, which might not be a big deal against YSU, but they will be against Alabama.  Unless you consider Brackett a TE (he isn't) they were nonexistent during the game.  Garry Gilliam had more penalties (1) then catches (0).

Final Grade: Brett Bracket A+, everyone else B

Offensive Line

They were a concern in the summer, and they are still a concern today.  Let's start with the good.  The pass blocking was excellent for Robert Bolden all day long.  He had plenty of time and was not sacked. 

The run blocking, well that is a completely different story.  With the exception of a few draw plays or delays, no holes were to be found.  Much of the pressure came up the middle over center Doug Klopacz and left guard DeOn'tae Pannell.  The coaches are obviously trying to find the right combination still, since Johnnie Troutman was subbed in during the third series of the game.  In the end, it was the same result.  Hopefully they can get this thing figured out before next Saturday, or else Bolden is going to be in for a long evening.

The second team line did see some action, but it wasn't much to make any judgments off of.  The line was who they said it would be all summer Okoli, Urschel, Stankiewitch, Troutman, Farrell.

Final Grade: C+