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Michigan Snap Counts: Due to Injuries, Tight Rotations on Defense

Penn State played most of the same guys throughout the game against Michigan.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Your snap count update has returned, after taking the bye week off. Injuries have caused Penn State to simply rely more on the guys still standing. Let's take a look at how things developed with the regular season nearing its close.


Pos. No. Class Offense Snaps %Snap
OL 66 RS Senior Angelo Mangiro 60 100%
C 55 RS Junior Wendy Laurent 60 100%
RG 72 RS Junior Brian Gaia 60 100%
RT/LT 59 RS Sophomore Andrew Nelson 60 100%
QB 14 Junior Christian Hackenberg 59 98%
WR 12 Sophomore Chris Godwin 57 95%
RB 26 Freshman Saquon Barkley 56 93%
WR 5 RS Sophomore DaeSean Hamilton 45 75%
OL 73 Junior Paris Palmer 38 63%
TE 87 RS Senior Kyle Carter 37 62%
WR 7 RS Junior Geno Lewis 32 53%
TE 11 RS Junior Brent Wilkerson 29 48%
OL 70 RS Sophomore Brendan Mahon 24 40%
WR 13 Sophomore Saeed Blacknall 11 18%
TE 88 Sophomore Mike Gesicki 11 18%
WR 10 Freshman Brandon Polk 10 17%
OL 53 RS Junior Derek Dowrey 5 8%
RB 22 RS Junior Akeel Lynch 4 7%
QB 9 RS Freshman Trace McSorley 1 2%
WR 3 RS Freshman DeAndre Thompkins 1 2%

Christian Hackenberg was forced to sit out one play after being hit hard in the third quarter. Trace McSorley stepped in for a third down play and threw an incomplete pass. That incompletion was left tackle Paris Palmer's final play at tackle for the game, as he was pulled for Brendan Mahon. Palmer would return for a play in the fourth quarter near the goalline (along with Derek Dowrey, who was brought in as an extra lineman five times in the game) in which Penn State lost several yards.

At wide receiver, Chris Godwin has emerged as the team's number one receiver, with DaeSean Hamilton being the clear number two. When they moved to three wide receiver sets, Geno Lewis or Saeed Blacknall joins them on the outside with Hamilton playing the slot. Brandon Polk is still being used mostly for jet sweeps and jet sweep fakes, including lining up in the wildcat. Mike Gesicki's drop problems have seen his playing time decrease, though he made a third down catch across the middle against Michigan.

Only two running backs were used in this game, a first for the 2015 season. Saquon Barkley is generally on the field for every play, only leaving on certain third-and-long plays where the staff would prefer to see Akeel Lynch in to pass protect.


Pos. No. Class Defense Snaps %Snap
MLB 40 Sophomore Jason Cabinda 70 100%
S 9 RS Junior Malik Golden 69 99%
DT 99 RS Junior Austin Johnson 61 87%
OLB 11 Junior Brandon Bell 61 87%
OLB 42 RS Freshman Troy Reeder 60 86%
CB 15 Sophomore Grant Haley 60 86%
S 2 Sophomore Marcus Allen 60 86%
CB 10 Senior Trevor Williams 56 80%
DT 98 Senior Anthony Zettel 52 74%
DE 19 RS Freshman Torrence Brown 42 60%
DE 94 RS Junior Evan Schwan 40 57%
CB 29 Freshman John Reid 39 56%
DE 90 RS Sophomore Garrett Sickels 36 51%
DE 52 RS Sophomore Curtis Cothran 18 26%
DT 91 Senior Tarow Barney 16 23%
S 28 Sophomore Troy Apke 14 20%
DT 41 RS Sophomore Parker Cothren 11 16%
DT 93 RS Freshman Antoine White 3 4%
DE 95 Senior Carl Nassib 2 3%

Carl Nassib got the start on Senior Day, but after a video replay review two snaps into Michigan's first drive, Nassib left and never returned. The injury that kept him out of the game for much of the second half against Northwestern ended his Senior Day almost before it began. In his stead, a surprise: the leader in defensive end snaps was freshman Torrence Brown, who had a big sack early in the game of Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock. Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan also saw over half of the snaps at defensive end. At defensive tackle, we saw the typical five man rotation, though Austin Johnson played more snaps than normal for a defensive lineman on this squad.

At linebacker, for the second straight week, Penn State did not rotate in any backups. Against Northwestern, this wasn't that big of a deal because they spent a lot of time in nickel and dime packages. But in this game, Michigan consistently gained positive yardage on first and second downs, keeping the Nittany Lions in their base defense. Brandon Bell and Troy Reeder saw a higher number of snaps than either usually sees, and neither got spelled by the team's young backup outside linebackers.

In the secondary, injuries kept this rotation tight as well. Senior safety Jordan Lucas is out for the season, and sophomore cornerback Christian Campbell has now missed several weeks with his own injury problems. This left just three men rotating in at each corner and safety. With Lucas out, the team has lost its normal nickel corner, so Grant Haley has been playing nickel corner in those situations since the Northwestern game. If Haley is playing outside in base, whoever is on the bench will come in to replace him on the outside when they switch to nickel to let him slide inside to the slot.