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29 Random Thoughts on the Rutgers Game

You have to love the "Aw shucks" expression for the Rutgers player.
You have to love the "Aw shucks" expression for the Rutgers player.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of takeaways from Penn State's 28-3 victory over Rutgers, and here are some of my main thoughts following the Nittany Lions' second win of the season. Also, I put this together before I had an opportunity to re-watch the game, so please keep in mind these are observations from watching the game in-person without the benefit of commentary or replay.

1. Saquon Barkley runs the ball like a grown-ass man. Not only does he have an unbelievable burst, he also has outstanding vision and does not go down after the first hit like most backs blessed with his speed. He's the total package, and it's really incredible that he's performing at this level so early in his true freshman season.

2.  Akeel Lynch may not last as the primary ballcarrier, but is a fantastic back in his own right. Many other running backs would have been caught from behind before reaching paydirt on his 75-yard touchdown scamper. He's a multi-faceted back that adds tremendous value to the revitalized running game. Together, they form a dangerous tandem that should continue to do big things this season and next.

3. Opposing offenses are really focusing on stopping Anthony Zettel, as they should. While he has not been his playmaking self as much in the first three games, his presence has made the entire defensive line so much better.

4. The next time you see a Penn State game in-person, keep an eye on Brandon Bell in between plays. He is a constant force of energy that is fueled by his passion for the game. It's obvious he has a deep love for the game and cherishes every second he spends on the field. Players like him are the reason we all love college football.

5. I'm proclaiming Bell as my favorite player on the 2015 team. In addition to the aforementioned reasons, it's a joy to watch him fly around the field and punish people on nearly every play. He is without a doubt worthy of wearing the number 11 jersey for Linebacker U.

6. Jordan Lucas is the type of leader that turns good teams into great ones. He is a big reason why there are so many young players excelling in the secondary. He'll be missed next season, but won't leave without others ready to carry the torch as Penn State will attempt to reach greater heights.

7. The Stripe Out looked fantastic before all of the raincoats and ponchos had to come out. I didn't get all of the naysaying that it couldn't work. We are an extremely organized fanbase, and if other programs can pull it off, we sure as hell can as well.

8. I have no problem admitting that if Austin Johnson was charging at me, I would throw the ball up in the air, let out a shriek, and run the opposite direction until I was at least two towns over.

9. Jason Cabinda and Troy Reeder seem well ahead of schedule in terms of their development. Each will continue to get better with each game and will have huge careers at Penn State.

10. It was nice to see De'Andre Thompkins finally get more involved with the offense after hearing the coaches rave about him for the past year.

11. It seems to be only a matter of time before Penn State breaks a return for a touchdown. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Nick Scott going the distance on a kickoff return in the next few weeks.

12. There is so much young speed on this team between true and redshirt freshmen like Scott, Thompkins, Mark Allen and Brandon Polk. These guys could be the nucleus for a very exciting and dangerous offense if the coaches use them correctly.

13. The defense isn't quite the same without Nyeem Wartman-White in the middle and it was great to see Lucas honor him by donning his jersey number. We miss you, Nyeem and can't wait to have you back in 2016!

14. Temple is the best defense Penn State has faced so far, but you have to give the offensive line credit for the vast improvement in run-blocking since week one. They looked completely lost against Temple, but have come a long way and seem to be working as a cohesive unit. They still have a long ways to go, but the progress is beginning to show.

15. On that note, who thought this line could go back-to-back weeks without allowing a sack after giving up 10 to Temple? They will face a major challenge on Saturday against San Diego State, and many more to come later in the season.

16. It would be nice to see Christian Hackenberg get the chance to throw the ball downfield more often. He obviously has the arm strength and accuracy to do great things in the vertical game. Even the most conservatively called games in the Paterno era saw the quarterback going deep a handful of times to keep defenses honest.

17. The penalties in the first quarter were alarming, but the team seemed to find its poise and played more in control for the remainder of the ballgame.

18. I would love to see Saeed Blacknall and Geno Lewis become more involved with the offense, but with only 19 pass attempts and several talented receivers, some players will be lost in the shuffle.

19. I completely understand why Franklin opted not to go for the Hail Mary with a 21-point cushion heading into the half, but the selfish part of me was hoping to see them take a shot in the end zone. Hackenberg's arm strength and a handful of tall receivers are the perfect recipe to pull off the improbable.

20. The defense isn't as dominating as last season, but do an outstanding job of keeping everything in front of them and then swarming to the ball.

21. The defense needs to get better at wrapping their arms around the ballcarrier after the initial hit. There have been far too many broken tackles this season- the would-be safety that tutned into a 20-yard game is exhibit A. I would bet my bank account Bob Shoop will be working on it this season.

22. John Reid has the look of a future shutdown corner, but needs to become more physical when the ball comes his way. It will come with time in the weight room and more experience on the field.

23. There is just nothing like a night game in Beaver Stadium. I would need to sit down and count all of the night games I've attended during the years, yet the atmosphere remains absolutely breathtaking.

24. Chris Gulla played out of his mind in his return as Penn State's starting punter. It seems that Gulla and Daniel Pasquiarello perform well when they initially are put in action and then steadily decline. Let's hope Gulla just improved during the offseason and we can regularly expect performances like this for the remainder of the season. Field position is always undervalued but easily one of the most important factors in just about any football game.

25. Penn State used a fullback and great things happened in the running game.

26. The Rutgers section really quieted down after the first score and then thinned out at halftime. If a fanbase really wants to throw around the "R" word, they need to do a better job of bringing it on gameday by making their presence known for 60 minutes.

27. This is a very young team. Please keep that in mind when the inevitable setbacks occur. It's easy to get excited about the gangbuster recruiting and the fact the scholarship players are being restored, but this team is still depending on many inexperienced players to perform well beyond their years.

28. Winning is contagious. A big home win against a conference foe is exactly what this team needed to boost its confidence and set the tone for the season.

29. WE ARE...