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3 Key Takeaways: Penn State Buries Kent State

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Penn State continues to dominate the line of scrimmage, but leaves room for improvement in the discipline game.

Kent State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

After the Week One scare against Appalachian State, James Franklin talked about the need for improvement in the trenches. He used some form of “up front” four times in the press conference. Here two games later, that improvement has been visibly evident.

Still, with only one more warmup game before Ohio State, time is running out to clean up the dumb mistakes.

Young Squad Still Playing Young and Running Out of Time to Knock It the Heck Off

The offense had five penalties for 74 yards, including bringing back three different Trace McSorley touchdown passes, and the Lions defense committed another four for 35 yards. Did the Lions pick up some bad habits from Pitt & Narduzzi last week?

Tough to say, but that mess has got to go!

I was hoping to see fewer dropped passes this week with no weather to exacerbate the ugly early-season trend, but the Penn State receivers let McSorley down a couple more times again this week. The pass-catching wasn’t entirely an eye-sore though, as Deandre Thompkins and Brandon Polk each used soft hands to pull in beautiful touchdown passes that looked briefly to be out of reach.

With only the Illinois Fighting Lovie Beards left to practice up on before Ohio State comes in for the White Out, this young and talented team is running out of time to shake the slop.

Offensive Line Getting Meaner & Meaner

Hoo boy, these boys are looking good! Ryan Bates looks barely even bothered by defensive ends. CJ Thorpe spelled Steven Gonzalez a fair bit in the second half, and his nasty reputation was on display. Michal Menet adjusted to a legit nose tackle right on his head, after an early false start, and Will Fries & Connor McGovern played nearly mistake-free ball.

The results? Seven rushers combined for 297 rushing yards and a 6.6 yards per carry average. Miles Sanders took the most advantage, with 14 carries for 86 yards, and softened the Kent State D so much that McSorley’s three keeper scores looked effortless. Oh, and 6 for 6 in Red Zone touchdowns.

When Trace dropped back to throw, the pocket protection was stellar and provided plenty of time for McSorley’s solid decision making. They only allowed one sack.

When the fourth-quarter depth-management operations began, we saw former starter and 5th-year Senior Chasz Wright out there, underscoring the advancements this unit has made these past four years under Coach Franklin. The starters all have size, good footwork, more and more experience, and are still being challenged by young up-and-comers.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Wild Dogs Gettin Wilder

Defensive Line Coach Sean “Chaos” Spencer has to be happy with the chaos his unit created today: seven sacks for minus 46 yards and 15 TFLs for minus 66 yards in toto. The Wild Dogs held five Golden Flash rushers to 41 yards on 37 carries. For you maff-heads out there, that’s a 1.1 yards per carry average, another drop-dead gorgeous thing to see.

The depth and rotation management felt pretty smooth, as Brent Pry’s staff continued to teach fans the players wearing those nameless jerseys. There are a lot of them.

Tick tock, you don’t stop. Doug E. Fresh taught us that, and there’s one week left before things get really, really, real.

The Buckeyes are looming.