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Snap Counts: at Purdue

Who played where, as Penn State trained Purdue.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

On Offense

  • DaeSean Hamilton didn't start, sitting out the first 2 series of the game.  And with DeAndre Thompkins injured, and Jet Sweep Polk taking a redshirt, that meant that Chris Godwin began in the slot, and Juwan Johnson got the start at "X".
  • You might think that Irvin Charles and Johnson had higher than usual snap counts due to garbage time.  You'd be wrong.  They both got run early and often, and mostly sat out the last 2.5 PSU possessions.
  • Will Fries preserved his redshirt for another game.
  • Just me?  Or did JoeMo use a ton of motion in this game?  Gesicki from split wide to near slot; RB from near slot to backfield.

On Defense

  • Garrett Sickels missed another start, sitting out the first series in this one.
  • Parker Cothren didn't play, giving Robert Windsor his first start at NT.
  • Shareef Miller - the kid can play the foosball.  Bright future if he keeps working.
  • The linebacker rotation is gonna be interesting to keep an eye on.  Bell (W), Cabinda (M), and Bowen (S) were your starters this week - but that lasted about 8 snaps, before everyone played everywhere.  Bell also played strongside, and middle in nickel.  Bowen played a little bit of weakside - and also some middle in dime.  Brandon Smith stayed at middle, same as Cabinda.  Koa Farmer got a good bit of run at strongside.  Jake Cooper (M) and Cam Brown (W) got on the field late in the game.
  • If you asked me 2 weeks ago, I'd have guessed Brent Pry would have figured a way to get Cabinda and Smith onto the field at the same time - presumably with Bell moving back to his more natural strongside role, and either Smith or Cabinda at weakside.  That's not been the case.  Maybe it happens this week?  Iowa is a whole different offense than Purdue, Maryland - even Ohio State.  Subtract two skinny, fast guys, and add two dudes with thick behinds.  We're gonna need our big boy pants this weekend.

Three Completely Unrelated, Probably Useless Thoughts

1) Does any bored innernet / math nerd keep track of starts missed?  Please link in the comments if some geek does.  Penn State has to be breaking records.  Off the top of my head: Cothren (1), Cothran (5), Wartman-White (6), Cabinda (5), Bell (4), Sickels (1), Schwan (3), Golden (1), Haley (3), and because nickel defense is starting defense any more, Campbell (3) / Owuwariye (4).   Not nearly as bad on the offensive side: Nelson (3), Hamilton (1), Blacknall (4).  But what a crazy year it's been.

2) I kinda don't want to mention this because Iowa comes to town Saturday, and they're gonna wear big boy pants and try to run the foosball.  However, if Brent Pry can coach around all of those missed starts, then he can handle this jinx factor, too.  So here it is.

Michigan ran 49 times for 326 yards on us in week 4.  Minnesota began the same way against us the following Saturday (or close to it), rushing 22 times for 125 yards in the first half.  Things did not look so great.

Then...poof - whole 'nother defense.  Minnesota ran 26 times for 103 in the second half and OT (3.9 ypc) - 40 of which came on one play.  Maryland - to that point, a hot shot running team - went 38 for 170.  Ohio State?  Just 168 yards.  And now, Purdue - which kinda doesn't count, but still: 46 net rushing yards.

What got said at halftime of the Minnesota game?  Wish I knew.  The DEs have been playing phenomenal football.  Sickels, Schwan, Miller, Brown, Buchholz, Costagna (who had 2 TFLs in 9 snaps at Purdue) - caught fire and haven't slowed down.  They're keeping contain on the edge, AND tackling the dive - two-gapping the read option.  Our DTs have suddenly been willing to eat a double, rather than run away from it as they'd done in the first few games.  And Manny Bowen's really picked up his game at SLB.  He's looked like a different player from the guy who was pressed into action at Pitt.  Probably we need to throw a little of the praise machine love at Brent "Busey" Pry, too.  Who knows what he said or did at halftime of Minnesota, but that crap's worked (knock on wood).  And he's mostly ditched the field corner blitz and deep safety blitzing, too, which makes me doubly happy. Oh - and our safeties are tackling machines.  Raise your hand if you said 2 years ago, "boy are we gonna miss Malik Golden after 2016".  Someone will come to your desk to give you a punch in the face for lying to all of us.

3) JoeMo's changed the passing attack in the last few weeks - at least a bit.  At the beginning of the season we saw a bunch of 12-yard comebacks, TE screens, and assorted other short/safe/easy stuff.  Not so much of that lately, and a bunch more Run-Pass-Option (RPO) stuff, paired with a mandatory 7+ "shots" per game.  With the exception of the skinny post / stick RPO to the TE, it's still nearly all outside the numbers.  But I'm not sure what to make of the subtle tweak.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.  I'm fairly certain, however, that JoeMo's not satisfied with the 55% completion rate, no matter the tweak, and no matter the abundance of deep shots due to single coverage on the outside.  Bump that completion percentage up 10 points, and the whole efficiency thing starts to improve, too.  That'd be a nice goal for the last quarter of the season.