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Position Grades: Rutgers

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A putrid first quarter followed by a better three quarters. How will this affect this week’s grades?

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

I must say, writing these things certainly feels like less of a chore after a win. If for some reason, you DVR’d the game but still have yet to watch, just go ahead and fast-forward through the first quarter. Trust me on that one. Anyway, onto the grades!

Quarterback: A-

Trace McSorley was a solid passing the ball 16-for-21 for 217 yards and 3 total TD’s (two passing, one rushing). He was also left with plenty of space to run since Rutgers’ front seven decided to employ the ‘everybody lock in on Saquon Barkley’ strategy. It was a bold strategy Cotton, but it didn’t pay off.

Running Back: B-

Saquon did get back on track for a pair of rushing touchdowns and added another highlight-reel moment when he took the lateral end of a Boise State-style hook-and-lateral from DaeSean Hamilton and leaped over a Rutgers defender like Michael Jordan, coming up just a yard shy of the end zone (Penn State would punch the ball in shortly thereafter). Unfortunately, it was another overall bad day on the stat sheet yardage-wise, as Barkley managed just 35 on the ground and 20 yards receiving. Shout-out to Miles Sanders, who gave us a preview of what he may be doing in 2018 on his couple of carries.

Wide Receivers/Tight End: B+

Juwan Johnson led the way yardage-wise with 78 on five catches, but it was Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton who were on the receiving end of Trace’s pair of touchdown passes. Overall, a solid day for this unit that took about a quarter and a half to get going.

Offensive Line: C-

It’s not as if this unit was doing a good job run blocking when Ryan Bates was healthy, but without him, it is a lost cause. At least they could hold their blocks long enough on most passing plays to give Trace some time to toss it around the yard.

Defensive Line: B

After a poor first quarter defending the run, the unit did tighten up and not allow Rutgers to get much traction on the ground. There were several opportunities to get sacks after hurrying Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno but Rescigno was allowed one too many times to escape for a big gain or make a throw to extend a drive on third downs.

Linebacker: B+

Jason Cabinda led the way with 11 tackles and Brandon Smith did a fine job filling in for the suspended Manny Bowen, garner ten tackles himself. In addition to getting pressure on (but failing to sack) Rescigno, this unit was able to clamp down on the rushing attack of Rutgers after the first quarter.

Secondary: A-

Look, I understand that Rutgers has a very punchless passing attack, but after getting torched the previous couple of weeks, it was refreshing to see this unit give up a mere 43 yards through the air. Ayron Monroe had seven tackles (including teaming up with Antonio Shelton for PSU’s lone sack of the afternoon) and Nick Scott had four tackles including one for a loss, while Marcus Allen had three tackles himself. A couple of dropped interceptions prevented this unit from earning a solid A grade.

Special Teams: C

Blake Gillikin did a solid job of pinning Rutgers in not-so-favorable field position on his five punts, including a long of 53. Unfortunately, this grade is brought down significantly by Saquon’s huge brain fart on the open kickoff, which thankfully didn’t put PSU in as deep of a hole early on as it could have. Not to mention, Tyler Davis continues to have issues booting kickoffs out of bounds and a well-executed onside kick attempt was marred by Christian Campbell being just a hair offsides. Kickoff coverage also seemed spotty at times, allowing for a couple decent returns by Rutgers.