Penn State is ranked #40 in KenPom’s preseason ranking, which is encouraging, as well as meaningless if the team is unable to back that up on the court in a few weeks. Still, aside from the joy that comes from watching Maryland fans get riled up at being ranked below the Nittany Lions, it is a positive sign that the statistical models used by Pomeroy reflect the improvement we’ve seen to the roster over the past few years.
Men’s soccer freshman Ethan Beckford was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the week, the first time a Nittany Lion has achieved the honor since October, 2016. In a 6-2 victory over Rutgers, Beckford tallied two goals and one assist for Penn State. The team’s final non-conference game will be played tonight against James Madison.
Grant Haley is a leader of one of the best secondary units in Penn State history, and this year he’s become much more than, “the guy who returned the block field goal against Ohio State.” His ability to shut down opposing receivers has lessened the blow of John Reid’s absence, allowing his teammates to thrive as well. I suspect “Mr. Dependable” will play a key role this weekend as the team looks to defeat the Buckeyes on their home field.
While we’re on the defense, how well do they match-up against Ohio State’s QB J.T. Barrett? Aside from his prolific numbers, Barrett rarely makes mistakes and is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. Still, Penn State’s defense has proven capable of stopping him in the past, and their talented secondary should allow Brent Pry to focus more attention on containing Barrett. Undoubtedly the best QB they’ve faced this year, it will be a good heat-check on a defense coming off a strong performance against Michigan’s offense.
Sports Illustrated is issuing a special issue celebrating Penn State Football’s first 25 years as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Penn State: 25 Years in the Big Ten includes feature stories on Saquon Barkley, LaVar Arrington and Paul Posluszny along with bios and photos of 30 more standout players from the past 25 years.
The commemorative issue is available on newsstands across Pennsylvania and online at:
ESPN listed an unsung hero for each of the Top 25 teams in the country, and chose DaeSean Hamilton for Penn State. It’s an easy choice after his performance against Michigan, but I think there are a few players on the defensive side that may be more deserving. Who do you think is the Nittany Lions’ unsung hero at this point in the season?