Trace McSorley was a solid 18-for-24 for 287 yards; had a rushing and a passing touchdown, and seemed to be in sync with his receivers during the course of the game. However, a very ill-timed interception right after the defense came up with a big stop up by two touchdowns that allowed Temple to make it a game once again prevents him from getting a higher grade.
Running Back: B-
Saquon Barkley was hampered for a good portion of the game with ankle injury but Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders did a nice job stepping up during his absence (a testament to PSU’s running back depth), with Robinson earning a touchdown and Sanders taking a sweep left on 4th down 19 yards to pick up a first down (unfortunately for Sanders, he fumbled the ball away inside Temple’s 10-yard line the very next play). Saquon did however, come back in the second half and with PSU clinging to a 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter, came up with arguably the most clutch play of the game, bouncing and juking his way to a 55-yard touchdown run to put PSU back up by ten.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: A
Welcome back, Chris Godwin! After a quiet game against Pitt last week (due in large part, to injury), Godwin emerged back onto the scene with 117 yards on seven catches, including a beautiful 52-yard TD reception on a seam pass down the middle that put PSU on the board first. Mike Gesicki however, had the highlight of the game with his ridiculous one-handed grab on a deep ball that set up another PSU TD in the first half. DeAndre Thompkins and DaeSean Hamilton were also solid, even if they didn’t catch as many balls as last week.
Offensive Line: B-
The pass blocking was fine, especially when you consider the fact that Trace McSorley didn’t get sacked once in the game. The run blocking still could use some work, and Brian Gaia and Connor McGovern both had some bad snaps that led to the ball sailing past McSorley, which will need to be cleaned up ASAP with Michigan up next.
Defensive Line: B
How about Parker Cothren stepping up today? Cothren tallied seven tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss and half a sack (combined with Garrett Sickels). We also saw Torrence Brown, Robert Windsor, and Kevin Givens come up with critical tackles for losses throughout the game. The unit also did a good job of getting pressure on Temple quarterback Phillip Walker, although they had their share of issues with contain, which allowed Walker to still make plays that kept Temple drives alive.
Grading on a bit of a curve here, since this unit was being led entirely by backups for most of the game, due to injuries to Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell who were unavailable and Nyeem Wartman-White, who just like last year, suffered an injury on a punt return. Seldom-used run-on Brandon Smith did quite an admirable job stepping in Nyeem’s middle linebacker spot, coming up with eight tackles, while Manny Bowen came up with his first career sack. This unit however, will need its starters to get healthy ASAP as Big Ten play starts up next weekend at Michigan.
John Reid’s clutch interception with Temple trying to drive for a game-tying score in the final minute prevents this grade from being lower. Otherwise, it was a ho-hum day for the secondary, which gave up 286 yards through the air and allowed a 67-yard pass just after PSU went up 7-0 that allowed Temple to quickly tie the game. Malik Golden (9) and Marcus Allen (8) however, were the leading tacklers for the defense, so kudos to them.
Special Teams: A-
John Reid had a nice 29-yard return that set up a PSU touchdown early on, Tyler Davis remained perfect for his career on field goals and extra points, Blake Gillikin was vital to helping to pin the Owls deep in their own territory, and Joey Julius put all but one of his kickoffs into the back of the end zone (the one that didn’t make it into the end zone went out of bounds). All in all, Temple did not have one single kick or punt return, which is huge for a unit that has had kick coverage issues at times. A mishandling of a crazy bouncing punt that set up Temple at PSU’s one yard line prevents this from being an full-fledged ‘A’ grade.