Penn State’s first win of the 2017 season is officially in the books, as the Nittany Lions crushed the Akron Zips to the tune of 52-0. While there were a few things that will need addressed after putting this one under a microscope, there are positives abound as Penn State dominated the game from the very beginning. Here are a few key takeaways from Penn State’s week one victory:
1. Establishing Trace
By this point, everyone out there knows that Saquon Barkley brings something special, and can hurt a defense severely with each touch. But Penn State spent the afternoon making it clear that they can hurt you with their other Heisman candidate in Trace McSorley. While Barkley was his usual dynamic self, he was often used as a decoy early in the game while McSorley moved with ball with his arm and legs. Joe Moorhead seemed to send a message to opposing defenses today- be wary of placing your focus on Saquon Barkley, as the Nittany Lions have many options who can get things moving this year.
2. Marcus Allen was Everywhere
Allen flirted with entering the NFL Draft and forgoing his senior season, and boy is Penn State fortunate to have him back. The hard-hitting safety is looking as though he has transcended from a terrific safety to one who can be the most dominant player on the field. Allen was simply everywhere this afternoon, reminiscent of a Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed, who made careers out of making it next-to-impossible for offenses to move the ball. The announcers even seemed to grow tired of calling his name after being involved in what seemed like every play in the first half. Allen enters the season as a preseason First Team All-American, and could end it as the Thorpe Award recipient as the nation’s best defensive back.
3. DeAndre Thompkins Is a Serious Weapon at Punt Returner
Thompkins began his career at Penn State as the team’s punt returner as a redshirt freshman in 2015, but issues with fielding the ball caused him to lose his spot. When Thompkins was listed at the top of the depth chart at punt returner, it was clear he had worked to put those issues behind him. It sure didn’t take long for Thompkins to show why he is so dangerous in the return game.
On his first return of the day, Thompkins fielded the ball perfectly, made a decisive cut and headed up the field for nine yards. It was a sign of things to come, as his second return resulted in a 61 yard touchdown, which he made look easy by displaying pure, unadulterated speed after a couple outstanding cuts. But he wasn’t finished- he took off again with a 42 yard return on his third return. In all, Thompkins produced 127 yards on four returns and a touchdown. It certainly seemed to be a preview of what’s to come throughout the fall.
Up next- Penn State vs. Pitt, Saturday, Sept. 9, 3:30, ABC