It didn't look pretty in the beginning, but Penn State finally came alive to take down the Bulls, 27-14. The offense couldn't gain much traction to start, although the heavy rain surely played a part in that regard. A Brandon Polk jet sweep after a monster punt return from De'Andre Thompkins finally got the Nittany Lions on the board after a dull first quarter, and then the rest of the offensive attack came alive in the second half.
The defense dominated all afternoon aside from allowing a pair of lengthy scoring drives by Buffalo that ended in two wonderful touchdown grabs, and showed that they will still be able to succeed without Nyeem Wartman-White. The offense finally showed some of its potential in the second half, led by sophomore receiver, Chris Godwin. The offensive line lost Andrew Nelson to injury in this one (we'll report more on that soon), but still held together well in the second half.
All in all, due to the opponent, this win doesn't tell us a ton about this team long term. However, we might have witnessed the arrival of Saquon Barkley, and with that, a more exciting and explosive offense.
Three things to know
1. The kids can play. Troy Reeder, Saquon Barkley, De'Andre Thompkins, Brandon Polk and John Reid were all difference makers on Saturday. Adding that group to the rest of the young talent on this roster, like Godwin, Allen, Blacknall, Campbell, Gesicki, Cabinda and more, is a huge boon going forward for the Nittany Lions. Young talent is the key to building a consistently competitive roster, and Penn State has a ton of it-even if the short term results aren't terribly pretty.
Also, Saquon Barkley is the truth, y'all. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
2. The defense, particularly the defensive line, is doing everything they can to keep Penn State competitive. Nassib, Johnson, Zettel and Sickels were excellent on Saturday and were constantly in the backfield looking to make plays. Of course, Bob Shoop's defense would have loved to walk out off the field with a shutout, but that's tough no matter who the opponent. All in all, they did what you want an experienced and dominating defense to do in early games- dominate (mostly).
3. The special teams are so much better off than they were in the past few years. From explosive return men, to active and hard-hitting blockers, the kick and punt returns are now a source of excitement for Nittany Lion fans. Sure, Julius probably won't be as accurate as Ficken over the full year, but he DOES show a great feel for doing the one thing Sam couldn't-kick the ball into the endzone on kickoffs.