“Second half team,” am I right? On to the grades!
It wasn’t Trace McSorley’s greatest performance, he threw a pair of interceptions and when he injured his ankle, Joe Moorhead decided to stop utilizing him as a running threat. Despite not getting the protection he had been used to getting from the offensive line, he still managed to throw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown.
Running Back: B
Saquon Barkley had a difficult time getting anything consistent going behind a patchwork offensive line, only racking up 58 yards on the ground on 33 carries. However, Barkley did run for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with the latter touchdown putting Penn State up for good. Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders both got a couple of carries but did not do anything of note with them.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: B
Early on in the game, the receivers seemed to be suffering from a case of the drops. Several times it seemed, a routine slant to Chris Godwin or whoever was normally reliable, ended up slipping through their hands. However, Godwin rebounded to grab a pair of catches in the end zone, and Saeed Blacknall and Mike Gesicki also had 40+ yard receptions. Shout-out goes to DaeSean Hamilton, who had one of the more clutch plays of the game, being on the receiving end of a perfectly-executed flea-flicker that set up Barkley’s go-ahead touchdown run with PSU trailing 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Offensive Line: C-
It was bad enough that Brendan Mahon was unavailable after being hospitalized earlier in the week. Things got infinitely worse however, when Paris Palmer and Connor McGovern both left the game with injuries. The O-line’s performance began to give fans flashbacks to the last couple of years as a result, as Barkley found hardly any holes to run through and Trace was rushed or sacked numerous times. To their credit, things stabilized enough to the point where the offense was still able to rack up 38 points in the end.
Defensive Line: B+
This unit was at times was able to get pressure on Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow and even racked up a few sacks. Kevin Givens also had a clutch pass break-up on 4th down for Indiana late in the game with PSU leading 35-31. The turnover on downs allowed PSU to kick the field goal that put them up seven and force IU to have to drive down the field just to potentially force overtime with 38 seconds left in the ball game. Of course, I would also be remiss to not give a shout-out to Torrence Brown, who scooped up Lagow’s fumble and took it to the house to put PSU up 45-31 with 30 seconds left, effectively icing the game.
Overall, a decent game from Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell, who racked up eight and six tackles, respectively. While Indiana’s Devine Redding managed to rack up 108 yards rushing and a touchdown, he wasn’t allowed to run wild on a consistent basis. Shout-out to Brandon Smith for coming up with a clutch pass break-up in the end zone on 4th and goal for the Hoosiers, when PSU was trailing 17-14 and IU seemed poised to pad their lead to ten. Also, shout-out goes to Brandon Bell who forced the fumble that led to the game-sealing scoop-and-score.
Yes, they came up with some clutch breakups late in the game, but overall this was one of the worst performances by the secondary this season. Lagow was able to pick this unit apart for most of the game and thanks to five turnovers (all fumbles), the potential for further damage was mitigated. Fortunately, the remaining opponents on the schedule (Rutgers and Michigan State) don’t feature potent passing attacks, so there’s opportunity for a bounce-back.
Special Teams: B
Blake Gillikin grossly mishandled a snap inside PSU’s own red zone, yet managed to avert disaster by somehow picking the ball up and booting from his own 10-yard line all the way to Indiana’s 40. Joey Julius once again put a kickoff out of bounds and had a couple more kicks that he wasn’t able to put in the back of the end zone. John Reid was able to make something out of nothing with a 19-yard punt return early in the game and Miles Sanders once again, had a nice return on the opening kickoff by taking it 31 yards to the PSU 40. The great starting field position allowed PSU to drive for a touchdown on its opening drive of the game. Tyler Davis meanwhile, still remains perfect on field goals (when they aren’t blocked) and extra points.