Penn State rotates players at a couple of positions during a typical game: the running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, defensive linemen, and cornerbacks tend to play series-by-series with a healthy amount of rotation. Saturday's game saw a new twist, and one that wasn't brought on by injuries or garbage time.
|C||55||RS Junior||Wendy Laurent||67||92%|
|RG||72||RS Junior||Brian Gaia||67||92%|
|RT||59||RS Sophomore||Andrew Nelson||67||92%|
|WR||5||RS Sophomore||DaeSean Hamilton||56||77%|
|LG||70||RS Sophomore||Brendan Mahon||46||63%|
|RB||24||RS Freshman||Nick Scott||35||48%|
|TE||87||RS Senior||Kyle Carter||32||44%|
|TE||11||RS Junior||Brent Wilkerson||28||38%|
|RB||8||RS Freshman||Mark Allen||27||37%|
|WR||7||RS Junior||Geno Lewis||24||33%|
|LG||53||RS Junior||Derek Dowrey||21||29%|
|WR||3||RS Freshman||DeAndre Thompkins||10||14%|
|LG/TE||71/86||RS Junior||Albert Hall||7||10%|
|QB||9||RS Freshman||Trace McSorley||6||8%|
|WR||80||RS Senior||Matt Zanellato||6||8%|
|LT||75||RS Freshman||Brendan Brosnan||6||8%|
|C||68||RS Senior||Kevin Reihner||6||8%|
|RG||58||RS Freshman||Chance Sorrell||6||8%|
|RT||60||RS Freshman||Noah Beh||6||8%|
|TE||34||RS Junior||Dominic Salomone||4||5%|
|RB||20||RS Freshman||Johnathan Thomas||3||4%|
Brendan Mahon is back at left guard with Andrew Nelson playing right tackle. Mahon has probably struggled more than any of the starters this season, at both the guard and tackle positions. So after a couple of particular bad showings by Mahon, we saw Derek Dowrey step in on the next series. This happened in both the first and second half, though Mahon eventually came back in each time. Still, the coaching staff has clearly grown impatient waiting for Mahon to catch up to the rest of the line and has a somewhat short leash for him. It's something to keep an eye on moving forward.
The rest of the offensive line held steady until the final possession in the fourth quarter with a 29-7 lead. Like we did against Rutgers, we saw the second unit offensive line get in the game. This time that unit included Chance Sorrell at right guard with Kevin Reihner playing center, (against Rutgers, Wendy Laurent played center with Reihner at right guard).
With Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch still sidelined with injuries, the carries were shared by Nick Scott and Mark Allen, with Scott both starting and seeing the majority of the snaps. Allen may have been in line for more of the workload before a fumble and brief altercation with running backs coach Charles Huff on the sideline afterwards. Johnathan Thomas was not part of the rotation and split the garbage time carries with walk-on senior Brandon Johnson.
At wide receiver, the biggest change was more snaps for Brandon Polk and DeAndre Thompkins, who were not just used as jet sweep runners in this game. Polk caught a touchdown on a wheel route and Thompkins ran some patterns as well. It would be nice to see the speedsters continue to get more involved in the offense. We also saw appearances at the end of the game by senior Matt Zanellato, junior Jake Kiley, and walk-on junior Gregg Garrity, who caught a pass from Trace McSorley on the final play of the game.
Mike Gesicki is seeing more consistent work at tight end, though his snap counts were slightly padded by remaining in the game during garbage time. It's still a pretty steady rotation at tight end. At the end of the game, walk-on H-back Dominic Salomone made an appearance.
|OLB||42||RS Freshman||Troy Reeder||55||81%|
|DT||99||RS Junior||Austin Johnson||47||69%|
|DE||90||RS Sophomore||Garrett Sickels||39||57%|
|DT||41||RS Sophomore||Parker Cothren||24||35%|
|DE||19||RS Freshman||Torrence Brown||22||32%|
|DE||94||RS Junior||Evan Schwan||20||29%|
|S||6||RS Junior||Malik Golden||18||26%|
|DE||52||RS Sophomore||Curtis Cothran||13||19%|
|DT||93||RS Freshman||Antoine White||6||9%|
|MLB||8||RS Junior||Gary Wooten Jr.||6||9%|
|CB||21||RS Freshman||Amani Oruwariye||6||9%|
Jordan Lucas and Marcus Allen were full participants at safety on Saturday. The team also used more dime packages during passing downs than nickel packages, perhaps feeling more confident in backup safeties Malik Golden and Troy Apke after the pair saw significant playing time over the last few weeks with Lucas and Allen both dealing with injuries.
The corner rotation is fairly balanced between starters Trevor Williams and Grant Haley and backup John Reid. Christian Campbell saw occasional snaps throughout the game and also played in garbage time with freshman Amani Oruwariye.
The starting linebackers saw regular snaps, with Reeder and Bell occasionally leaving on nickel and dime downs. Jake Cooper continues to be used as the fourth linebacker and is playing on the outside now. Garbage time saw appearances by Manny Bowen, Matthew Baney, and Gary Wooten, Jr.
The defensive line rotation varied. At times they would take one, two, or three starters off of the field. Three starters were off the field when Indiana put together their only touchdown drive. Freshman Torrence Brown is now the top backup defensive end, though Evan Schwan may see more snaps as he continues to improve from an injury. It will be interesting to see how Bob Shoop handles the defensive line rotations next week against a team like Ohio State, and will probably be more indicative of how comfortable he feels with each player.