This game may have contained the most garbage time of any of the games so far this season, so we've got a lengthy and strange chart of football playing ahead. Come join in the fun!
|C||55||RS Junior||Wendy Laurent||67||92%|
|RT||70||RS Sophomore||Brendan Mahon||67||92%|
|LG||66||RS Senior||Angelo Mangiro||59||81%|
|RG||72||RS Junior||Brian Gaia||49||67%|
|TE||11||RS Junior||Brent Wilkerson||44||60%|
|WR||5||RS Sophomore||DaeSean Hamilton||42||58%|
|WR||7||RS Junior||Geno Lewis||34||47%|
|TE||87||RS Senior||Kyle Carter||29||40%|
|RG/LG||53||RS Junior||Derek Dowrey||28||38%|
|QB||9||RS Freshman||Trace McSorley||14||19%|
|WR||3||RS Freshman||DeAndre Thompkins||13||18%|
|RB||24||RS Freshman||Nick Scott||6||8%|
|TE||89||RS Sophomore||Tom Pancoast||6||8%|
|LT||58||RS Freshman||Chance Sorrell||6||8%|
|C||68||RS Senior||Kevin Reihner||6||8%|
|RG||71||RS Junior||Albert Hall||6||8%|
|RT||60||RS Freshman||Noah Beh||6||8%|
|LG||75||RS Freshman||Brendan Brosnan||6||8%|
|RB||22||RS Junior||Akeel Lynch||5||7%|
|RB||8||RS Freshman||Mark Allen||5||7%|
|TE||34||RS Junior||Dominic Salomone||4||5%|
|RB||20||RS Freshman||Johnathan Thomas||3||4%|
|WR||80||RS Senior||Matt Zanellato||3||4%|
|WR||2||RS Junior||Jake Kiley||3||4%|
|WR||89||RS Sophomore||Gordon Bentley||1||1%|
The first thing that jumped out for this game is that Akeel Lynch has really been phased out of the offense. The starter and feature back is Saquon Barkley, and his main backup in this game was Nick Scott. Lynch only played two snaps before garbage time, and split garbage time snaps with Mark Allen and walk-on Brandon Johnson. It's not necessarily a knock on Lynch that the team is flush with great, young running backs, but he did not help his cause for snaps with his big dropped pass last week against Maryland.
With right tackle Andrew Nelson out of the lineup, Brendan Mahon stepped in. Brian Gaia started at right guard and played most of the pre-garbage time snaps there, though Derek Dowrey did replace him for two or three series before Trace McSorley entered the game for Christian Hackenberg. Angelo Mangiro was the only starter pulled out of the game on the first McSorley series (which resulted in a touchdown), with Dowrey switching to left guard and Gaia returning to right guard. Chasz Wright was injured last week and did not play in this game on special teams units or in garbage time.
At wide receiver, Chris Godwin led in snaps, which is slightly unique since pretty much every week had seen he and DaeSean Hamilton pretty even in snaps. Geno Lewis saw an increase in his playing time for the first time all season, rewarding the coaching staff with an early touchdown catch similar to his catch against Maryland in Baltimore. We saw end-of-the-game appearances by four non-regulars: Matt Zanellato, Jake Kiley, and walk-ons Gregg Garrity and Gordon Bentley. Bentley entered the game for one snap and got the season's funniest penalty: he was on the field at the same time as walk-on tight end Tom Pancoast, who also wears number 89. That is illegal numbering, and caused Penn State to have to run one extra play to run the clock out.
At tight end, Brent Wilkerson led in snaps for the second week in a row, and it was not particularly close.
|DT||99||RS Junior||Austin Johnson||44||60%|
|S||6||RS Junior||Malik Golden||42||58%|
|DE||90||RS Sophomore||Garrett Sickels||37||51%|
|OLB||42||RS Freshman||Troy Reeder||28||38%|
|DT||41||RS Sophomore||Parker Cothren||23||32%|
|DE||19||RS Freshman||Torrence Brown||22||30%|
|DE||52||RS Sophomore||Curtis Cothran||22||30%|
|DT||93||RS Freshman||Antoine White||21||29%|
|DE||94||RS Junior||Evan Schwan||17||23%|
|MLB||8||RS Junior||Gary Wooten Jr.||11||15%|
|CB||21||RS Freshman||Amani Oruwariye||11||15%|
|S||7||RS Freshman||Koa Farmer||11||15%|
This was easily the weirdest game I've seen from defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, and it was a highly effective strategy he employed. Last week he used quite a bit of nickel, but for a totally different reason. He was attempting to get more athletic players like safety Marcus Allen up in the box to try to contain running quarterback Perry Hills. Illinois did not present that problem in quarterback Wes Lunt, but they do pass the ball a ton. So Shoop stayed in nickel essentially as the team's base defense, with a healthy amount of dime packages as well.
For the linebackers, this obviously meant less time for outside linebackers Brandon Bell and Troy Reeder. It also meant some three-man defensive fronts were utilized, which was a particular favorite of Shoop's on 2nd-and-long plays where he believed Illinois tended to go for screen passes.
But that's not what made this a weird game. What was weird was the usage of the secondary. Their nickel gameplan this year has been very consistent: Jordan Lucas moves to the slot and either Malik Golden or Troy Apke enters the game. For dime packages, a defensive tackle comes off the field and they go 3-3-5 with both Golden and Apke playing back and Marcus Allen playing up in the box. But in this game, we saw three cornerbacks on the field for the first time. Instead of bringing Apke onto the field and moving Allen into the box, Allen would stay back and the team would roll with two corners on each side. Reid and Williams played outside, with Lucas down in one slot and Haley down in the other. It was a new twist that may have been unique for an Illinois team that simply doesn't run the ball, and it was incredibly effective.
Freshman defensive tackle Antoine White played in this game in regular snaps after not seeing the field at all in the last two weeks. It is unknown if they didn't feel comfortable playing him or if he was injured, but he is back and adds one more lineman that the team can rotate in. Cornerback Christian Campbell did not appear at all in this game, which is the first game he has missed this season. He too may be dealing with an injury. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel missed some second quarter snaps after being shaken up in a collision with Allen.