Penn State and Nebraska engaged in a wacky, wild game of American football at Beaver Stadium on Saturday and, thankfully, the Nittany Lions prevailed as 56-44 victors.
Here are my takeaways:
- When given an inch of space, Saquon Barkley is still the most dangerous man in college football
Due to some, er, less than stellar blocking in recent weeks, Saquon Barkley’s Heisman candidacy was dealt a death blow. Don’t let anybody tell you that Barkley isn’t the best college football player in the country, however, as Barkley showed on Saturday. Thanks to some better blocking and abhorrent Nebraska defense, Barkley exploded for 158 yards and three touchdowns on just 17 carries, including a 65-yard score less than a minute into the game. He also caught six balls for 66 yards. If that was, as expected, his last game in Beaver Stadium, Barkley certainly went out with a bang.
2. Michal Menet is going to be a hell of football player for Penn State
Many around the Penn State football program thought redshirt freshman Michal Menet was going to be a starter at guard this season. Injuries over the summer slowed his progression and only recently has Menet gotten fully healthy. The former five-star recruit showed his potential today, rotating in and out with senior Brendon Mahon and impressing in limited snaps. Menet is extremely athlete for his size, has great footwork, and reads the game at a very high level. In all likelihood the Exeter grad will start at guard for Penn State next season for a year or two after. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a multiple-time All-Big Ten selection.
3. The youngins still have some growing to do, but that’s okay
Penn State was never really in danger of losing on Saturday. Regardless of the final score, the game was never really that close. After taking a commanding 42-10 lead at half, James Franklin took the opportunity to get a ton of young players into the game in the second half, particularly on defense. Those young players struggled mightily, but you shouldn’t read too much into it. Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade, who have been solid all year in the secondary, were burnt a number of times. Shane Simmons and Yetur Gross-Matos struggled to get to the quarterback and Ayron Monroe and Zech McPhearson really made no impact at all. All of the aforementioned players, sans Monroe, are true or redshirt fresmen. All were highly touted out of high school, and all or most will be just fine. College football is a massive step for all but the elite of the elite high school players, and even for them it can be tough. Given what we’ve seen Penn State do with the development of players like Grant Haley, Troy Apke, Shareef Miller and Ryan Buchholz, it would be wise to trust the coaching staff to bring along the young guns just the same.