Let me take you back in time. The date is Saturday, September 12th, the place is Beaver Stadium, and the time is late third quarter against Buffalo. Penn State's offense is struggling through its sixth consecutive quarter of nothing, and suddenly the Lions only lead the Bulls by three. Then Saquon Barkley entered.
The freshman from Whitehall had entered the game to start the second half, carrying four times for 14 yards. But the fifth carry of the day would go off left tackle for 33 yards, with the next going 17 yards right up the middle, and over some poor Buffalo defender. Two plays later, Penn State was in the end zone. On the following drive, Barkley would carry twice more for 18 yards, with the second of those capping the drive, and giving him the first of what would seem to be many touchdowns in his career.
On the day, Barkley would carry 12 times for 115 yards, and the touchdown. But his impact seemed to go well beyond the numbers. The Penn State offense had done virtually nothing for the better part of 90 minutes of game time; 10 of the 13 points scored before that fifth carry came courtesy of short fields, and the Lions had failed to sustain anything offensively. Barkley changed that, and provided a glimpse of those game breaking skills that made him the top 2014 high school player in Pennsylvania according to many.
1. Carl Nassib - The senior defensive end earned our honors last week, and could have very easily gone back to back after a 5 tackle, 3 sack, 1 interception performance against the Bulls. The interception, an impressive catch off of an Anthony Zettel deflection, would set up a Joe Julius field goal. After two games, Nassib has more then alleviated any concerns about replacing departed players at DE.
2. Austin Johnson - Johnson's 9 tackles (2.5 TFL, 1.5 sack) were a career high for the junior defensive tackle. He displayed the type of speed and strength that surely has NFL scouts drooling, and PSU fans lamenting a possible early departure for the league.
3. DeAndre Thompkins/Brandon Polk - This is my post, and I can certainly combine an honorable mention for two players. Both Thompkins and Polk displayed the type of game breaking speed we have not seen in Happy Valley for some time.