Well, that was a nice little tune-up before the start of Big Ten play, no? On to the grades!
Trace McSorley made up for his semi-shaky performance against Pitt last week by going 18-for-23 passing for 309 yards and five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). Tommy Stevens also found himself on the receiving end of one of Trace’s TD passes and tossed a lovely deep ball to Saeed Blacknall in the back of the end zone. Overall, a great night for the QB’s.
Running Back: A
166 overall rushing yards is disappointing considering the opponent, but Saquon Barkley provided a Heisman-worthy moment on his zig-zagging touchdown catch that put the Lions up 14-0 early in the game, when the offense was seeming a tad sluggish. Barkley would finish the game with 229 all-purpose yards (142 receiving, 50 rushing, and 37 yards on his lone kickoff return). It was also nice to see Miles Sanders and Andre Robinson redeem themselves from prior fumbles to run for touchdowns.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: A
Coming into this game, all five of PSU’s receiving touchdowns had come from either Barkley or Mike Gesicki. That changed tonight when three different true receivers in Brandon Polk, DaeSean Hamilton, and Saeed Blacknall (remember him?) all caught touchdown passes.
Offensive Line: B-
Perhaps it had to do with Brendan Mahon being held out of the game, but this unit was unable to open up holes for Barkley and the other tailbacks on a regular basis. Not to mention, they also had issues with pass protection, forcing Trace or Tommy to scramble away from trouble a little more frequently than they otherwise should against this type of opponent. There is plenty of time though, for things to improve.
Defensive Line: B+
At times, they had issues with stuffing the run, but they did also force a pair of fumbles that were recovered, that were part of five overall turnovers forced. It also would’ve been nice to see more pressure put on the Georgia State quarterbacks, but all things considered, they were fine.
Manny Bowen led the defense in tackles tonight with six of them (including half of a sack). It would’ve been nice to see them shut down the running game of Georgia State’s, but overall, this unit played well enough.
This unit bent but never broke, not even close. When your position group holds the opponent to under 200 yards passing and racks up three interceptions from three different players (including Marcus Allen, who finally got his first career INT), it is deserving of the highest possible grade.
Special Teams: A
Tyler Davis had his second shanked field goal on the year but did finally make it through a game without booting a kickoff out of bounds. Blake Gillikin and Daniel Pasquariello both averaged 45 yards per punt, and kick coverage was excellent. Not to mention, Barkley’s nice opening kickoff return. Really, it’s hard to complain about this unit (aside from the missed field goal from a kicker we’ve become spoiled enough to expect perfection from).