It was not pretty, but it was a win. After surviving a trip to Bloomington on Saturday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions are now 5-2 this season.
As always, the Twittersphere was a hip happening place during the game on Saturday. So, let’s take a look at what some of the fine folks of Twitter had to say about Penn State’s 33-28 victory over Indiana.
It did not take junior running back Miles Sanders long to make an impact on Saturday afternoon. While Sanders rushed for just 72 yards on Saturday, he scored the first Nittany Lion touchdown of the day and used his great skill set to average nearly 5 yards per carry.
Miles Sanders is a better runner than Saquon Barkley don’t @ me ♀️ ♀️— Makenna Hopta (@MHopta31) October 20, 2018
While Sanders’ star continued to shine, a pair of veteran wide receivers continued to struggle. Both Juwan Johnson and Brand Polk struggled with drops yet again, and one of Polk’s drops was a would be touchdown. People on Twitter dot com were not happy with Johnson or Polk.
Quick shout out to Juwan Johnson. This dude lost his hands during the off-season in some unknown accident. Pray for him please. Living life without hands would make everyday tasks almost impossible and this man is playing D1 football with no hands. What a story. #PSUwr— Treigh Wittman (@TreighWay) October 20, 2018
I don’t wanna see Juwan Johnson or Brandon Polk play another game all season.— Ali Marco (@amarco16) October 20, 2018
Brandon Polk is just flat-out terrible.— Peter Key (@PeterLKey) October 20, 2018
"Brandon Polk had it and then he didn't" the 2018 Penn State Wide Receivers story— Devin Boyer (@wxdevin) October 20, 2018
It should be noted Johnson did not play in the second half and did not have his helmet on the sideline making it seem that he is battling an injury of some sort.
The struggles of Johnson and Polk led to younger wide receivers getting a look. True freshmen Jahan Dotson and Daniel George each appeared in their second game of the season, with Dotson recording his first career reception.
First career catch for true freshman and Nazareth native Jahan Dotson— Tyler King (@King_TylerB) October 20, 2018
I remember covering Jahan Dotson in high school at Nazareth. Good to see him making a play. I’m excited to see what he can do at Penn State, he’s very talented— Josh Sperber (@Josh_Sperber) October 20, 2018
Another true freshman WR on the field: Daniel George.— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) October 20, 2018
Redshirt freshman Cam Sullivan-Brown also saw an expanded role, and responded by making a pair of catches for 33 yards.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown is impressive.— Leader Johnson (@WriterLeader247) October 20, 2018
Cam Sullivan Brown, the redshirt freshman, #PennState should target him some more.— Philly Sports Fanatic (@thunderducks26) October 20, 2018
Moving forward, I would like to see more of the young wideouts and less of Johnson and Polk.
While the offense scored 30+ points for the first time since hanging 63 against Illinois on September 21st, there were still some questionable coaching calls. Early in the game the wind was a major issue, Trace McSorley was struggling, and Miles Sanders was running wild. Yet, offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne refused to ride Sanders.
Ricky Rahne must hate Miles Sanders— Clay Sauertieg (@ByCSauertieg) October 20, 2018
Shocked Miles Sanders only has seven carries. Averaging 6.6 per carry, and one was a 1-yard TD. The holes have been there. #iufb— Teddy Bailey (@ByTeddyBailey) October 20, 2018
Why does Miles Sanders have only 7 carries late in the second quarter? Why?— Mike Krafft (@Mike_Krafft) October 20, 2018
Even ex-Nittany Lion running back Bill Belton was dumbfounded.
Give Miles Sanders the ball— Bill Belton (@chillbelton) October 20, 2018
There was also James Franklin’s terrible decision to fake punt from his own side of the 50 with the game tied at 7 in the second quarter. Things were made worse when it failed, leading to an Indiana touchdown and the Hoosiers taking a 14-7 lead.
Goes for a fake punt on 4th and 5(we all know how that ends) doesn’t get it and Indiana score the next possession. Great stuff Penn state football— Austin Schneck (@a_schnecks) October 20, 2018
So, what was that fake punt? — watching Penn State Football— Michael Anderson (@Beastmike) October 20, 2018
Penn State really ran that fake punt after Indiana was fully prepared for it— JR Swish (@Jr717_daKid) October 20, 2018
Touchdown Indiana 14-7 failed fake punt comes back to hurt Penn State— S Iannetta (@iannetta) October 20, 2018
The coaching staff, however, did go to the LION package early in the game with success which made Nittany Lion fans smile. With Penn State trailing 14-7, one time Indiana commit Tommy Stevens threw his first pass of the season and it was a game tying touchdown toss to Pat Freiermuth.
OUR LORD AND SAVIOR TOMMY STEVENS— jαyne (@GI_Jayneee) October 20, 2018
I've always said the "Lion" package is useless until Tommy Stevens throws out of it. That play may have opened a whole new section of the PSU playbook.— Matt Lingerman (@linger_man) October 20, 2018
Good to see Tommy Stevens involved in PSU offense finally— Eric Wilson (@isellhealth) October 20, 2018
As a whole, the play of Penn State’s defensive line left a lot to be desired. This is a big reason why the Hoosiers rushed for 224 yards. However, a pair of defensive ends had huge games.
First, there is Yetur Gross-Matos. Gross-Matos flashed why many people see him as a future first round pick on Saturday afternoon racking up a team leading 10 tackles and a pair of sacks. He also drew a pair of holding calls on Saturday, and was unblockable all afternoon long.
Gross-Matos has his second sack of the game. Penn State leads 33-21 with 9:32 left in the game.— breezy (@brianapamela97) October 20, 2018
Yetur Gross Matos just ate a man.— Andrew Hanselman (@Riley165B) October 20, 2018
Redshirt sophomore Shaka Toney exploded in the 33-28 victory. The Philly native tied the Nittany Lion single-game record with 4 sacks against Indiana.
Shaka Toney had 4 sacks and I would say that is pretty good— Shawn Kane (@CitizenKane95) October 21, 2018
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer even took to Twitter to comment on the performances of Gross-Matos and Toney.
It was not all good for the Nittany Lion defense, however. Linebackers not named Micah Parsons did not play well on Saturday, this was particularly true about redshirt senior Koa Farmer.
Koa Farmer has done absolutely nothing since that Ohio State game last year.— Ryan Lehman (@ryan_lehman) October 20, 2018
GET KOA FARMER OFF THE FIELD— Ryan Mackes™ (@RMackes) October 20, 2018
Bench Koa Farmer immediately dude is awful— Brandon (@Scout5231) October 20, 2018
How is koa farmer still even playing— Murphhh (@RyanPMurphy16) October 20, 2018
With each week Parsons has cut into Farmer’s playing time more and more. On Saturday, Parsons looked like the starter as he played, by my count, every series except three. At this point, there is no reason for Farmer to continue to start over Parsons.
Despite the fake punt disaster, special teams played a key role in Penn State’s victory Saturday. In the biggest play of his Nittany Lion career, redshirt senior running back Johnathan Thomas returned a kickoff 95 yards to set up a McSorley touchdown run that gave Penn State a 26-21 lead they would not relinquish.
That explosive Johnathan Thomas we all anticipated— Thomas Schlarp (@TSchlarp) October 20, 2018
Congrats to Thomas, who has been a great teammate during his five years in Happy Valley, on the big play that played a major role in the Nittany Lion victory.
Special teams also set up Penn State’s fourth and final touchdown. This time it came when Jonathan Sutherland forced a fumble in punt coverage that Nick Scott recovered.
BALL! #PennState recovers the fumble caused by Sutherland, right into the hands of Nick Scott.— Jack Wascher (@jackwascher) October 20, 2018
Jonathan Sutherland was a heat-seeeking missile on that play— Tyler King (@King_TylerB) October 20, 2018
Nick Scott says "Look what I found!" Gotta convert this turnover into a TD, Penn State. #PSUvsIU— Jared Lee (@JaredALee) October 20, 2018
Yes nick scott whassup— LESGETIT NETWORKS (@LesgetitN) October 20, 2018
Jonathan Sutherland just made a fantastic play. #WeAre— Penn State Football Die Hard (@PSUDieHard21) October 20, 2018
Also, do not overlook true freshman kicker Jake Pinegar. While he did miss his first career PAT, due to it being blocked, he was 2/2 on field goal attempts. This marked the first game since the season opener that Pinegar was perfect on field goal attempts.
If that kick can be a confidence booster for Jake Pinegar that’d be yuuuuuge— Marty (@msj41817) October 20, 2018
Jake Pinegar field goal is good— John McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) October 20, 2018
Penn State leads 20-14 with 7:16 to go in the third
Finally, it would not be a John O’Neill officiated Penn State game without mentioning O’Neill. As usual, O’Neill and his officiating crew were terrible. Their msot egregious call was a third quarter targeting call on Garrett Taylor.
Absolutely terrible targeting penalty on #PennState DB Garrett Taylor. He was sinking his shoulders to get under the pads of the IU quarterback, who had changed direction.— Dan McNeil (@DannyMac670) October 20, 2018
#Targeting call against Garrett Taylor of @psufootball is ridiculous. Players hit side of helmets and the contact was inadvertent. I'm 100% for safety, but #NCAA needs to update their rules on this. #CollegeFootball— Aaron Swayne (@A_Swayne) October 20, 2018
Here comes O’Neil and his crew...— Andrew Jezick (@GoPSUAJ) October 20, 2018
Due to the targeting call, the Nittany Lions will be without Taylor for the first half of next week’s match up with Iowa. This is a big blow to the Nittany Lions as Taylor has turned into one of the team’s best defensive players.
That will do it for this week. Penn State is now 5-2. It’s Iowa week.