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Ohio State Snap Counts: The O-Line Is a Mess

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There are no easy answers for this Penn State team at either guard position.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Re-watching this game and continuing to analyze it feels like a chore for all of us this week after a frustrating, deflating loss, but let's press on and see what we have learned from this game that could be an indication of things to come.

Offense

Pos. No. Class Offense Snaps %Snap
QB 14 Junior Christian Hackenberg 55 100%
LT 73 Junior Paris Palmer 55 100%
C 66 RS Senior Angelo Mangiro 55 100%
RT 59 RS Sophomore Andrew Nelson 55 100%
WR 12 Sophomore Chris Godwin 49 89%
TE 88 Sophomore Mike Gesicki 47 85%
WR 5 RS Sophomore DaeSean Hamilton 45 82%
RB 26 Freshman Saquon Barkley 42 76%
TE 11 RS Junior Brent Wilkerson 36 65%
LG/RG 53 RS Junior Derek Dowrey 34 62%
RG 72 RS Junior Brian Gaia 33 60%
LG 70 RS Sophomore Brendan Mahon 25 45%
WR 13 Sophomore Saeed Blacknall 20 36%
LG 55 RS Junior Wendy Laurent 19 35%
WR 10 Freshman Brandon Polk 12 22%
RB 22 RS Junior Akeel Lynch 9 16%
TE 81 RS Sophomore Adam Breneman 6 11%
RB/WR 24 RS Freshman Nick Scott 3 5%
WR 7 RS Junior Geno Lewis 3 5%
WR 3 RS Freshman DeAndre Thompkins 2 4%

Angelo Mangiro returned this week at center and was one of three anchors on the offensive line along with tackles Paris Palmer and Andrew Nelson. Penn State started the game with Brendan Mahon at left guard and Brian Gaia at right guard. After that, the guard rotation was an unprecedented mess. Derek Dowrey replaced Mahon at left guard in the first half. After Gaia struggled throughout the first half, Dowrey moved to right guard to start the second half with Mahon returning at left guard. Mahon was then the clear weak link on the second drive of the second half, so backup center Wendy Laurent entered the game at left guard. This seemed to work better until the defense began targeting Dowrey, and Gaia briefly at right guard near the game's end.

Wide receivers Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, along with tight end Mike Gesicki, were on the field for the majority of the offense's plays. Running backs Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch returned from injury to dominate the carries, and though Lynch started the game, it was Barkley who saw by far the biggest load. Third running back Nick Scott was used both as a running back and a wide receiver in his three snaps. Saeed Blacknall and Brandon Polk both saw more snaps at wide receiver than Geno Lewis, and DeAndre Thompkins barely registered a blip in this game.

Gesicki saw a lot of snaps, as did Brent Wilkerson. This was an effect of an injury keeping Kyle Carter from playing. In addition, we saw the 2015 debut of Adam Breneman, his first appearance in a game since Wisconsin in 2013. Breneman only saw six snaps and was primarily used as an extra blocker in short yardage situations.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg played the entire game despite appearing to be injured in the second quarter.

Defense

Pos. No. Class Defense Snaps %Snap
S 2 Sophomore Marcus Allen 70 100%
S/CB 9 Senior Jordan Lucas 70 100%
MLB 40 Sophomore Jason Cabinda 67 96%
OLB 42 RS Freshman Troy Reeder 66 94%
DE 95 Senior Carl Nassib 62 89%
DT 99 RS Junior Austin Johnson 62 89%
DT 98 Senior Anthony Zettel 59 84%
OLB 11 Junior Brandon Bell 54 77%
DE 90 RS Sophomore Garrett Sickels 48 69%
CB 15 Sophomore Grant Haley 44 63%
CB 10 Senior Trevor Williams 42 60%
CB 29 Freshman John Reid 38 54%
CB 1 Sophomore Christian Campbell 16 23%
DE 94 RS Junior Evan Schwan 13 19%
DT 91 Senior Tarow Barney 9 13%
S 6 RS Junior Malik Golden 9 13%
DE 52 RS Sophomore Curtis Cothran 8 11%
DT 41 RS Sophomore Parker Cothren 8 11%
OLB 43 Freshman Manny Bowen 8 11%
DE 19 RS Freshman Torrence Brown 7 10%
S 28 Sophomore Troy Apke 4 6%
MLB 8 Junior Gary Wooten Jr. 3 4%
OLB 33 Freshman Jake Cooper 3 4%

With Penn State down throughout the second half, we did not see any second half snaps for backup defensive linemen until garbage time. There was rotation in the first half, but with Penn State trying to lead a comeback in the second half, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and defensive line coach Sean Spencer decided to let the Wild Dogs work without a break. This led to the highest percentage of snaps of the season for Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson, and Anthony Zettel.

Similarly, there was very little in the way of breaks for the linebackers. We had seen occasional spells from freshmen Jake Cooper and Manny Bowen in previous games, but in this game only Bowen played non-garbage time snaps, and very limited ones at that.

Penn State only had limited use of the nickel and dime packages in this game, which is why limited snaps were available for safeties Malik Golden and Troy Apke. With the threat of running from Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller, and part-time quarterback J.T. Barrett, Penn State tried to keep its front seven on the field as much as possible.