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Position Grades: Kent State

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Pretty good overall, but some units will need to clean it up.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State ultimately did what a superior team should do to an inferior one, even though there are plenty of things that still need to get cleaned up before Ohio State in two weeks. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Quarterback: A

Trace McSorley had five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) and tallied 229 yards on 11-for-22 passing. He would’ve had a lot more had it not been for a few holding penalties and drops from his receivers (one of which led to an interception that wasn’t on Trace at all). Sean Clifford not only threw the longest TD pass from scrimmage in school history (a 95-yarder to Daniel George), but also remains a perfect 4-for-4 and two TD’s in his career.

Running Back: A

Miles Sanders had 86 yards rushing on 14 carries and another 30 yards receiving on three catches. While Miles didn't reach the end zone himself, his teammates Mark Allen (62 yards on 11 carries) and Ricky Slade found pay dirt. It was especially nice to see Ricky redeem himself after losing a pair of fumbles last weekend in Pittsburgh. Shout-out as well to Jonathan Thomas, who scored his first career TD.

Wide Receiver: B

At least *one* of the veteran receivers seems to have gotten over their case of the drops (looking at you, DeAndre Thompkins). Brandon Polk and Daniel George also hauled in TD passes, themselves. KJ Hamler had a quiet afternoon receiving-wise (one catch for 22 yards) but in fairness to him, his TD grab on the opening drive was wiped away by a holding penalty (plus, he made quite a bit of noise in the special teams department - more on that, in a bit)

Offensive Line: B

Quite frankly, this unit should’ve gotten an ‘A’ grade but wiping away three (yes, THREE) Trace McSorley TD passes because of dumb holding penalties is going to get you docked in my book.

Defensive Line: A

Yes, that first drive they got quite jumpy with the three offsides penalties, but once they settled down, the D-line accounted for six of the team’s seven total sacks. Shareef Miller and Jayson Oweh (who is a future stud in the making and should get “green lighted” by Franklin for the rest of the year) had a pair of sacks each, while Yetur Gross-Matos and Ellison Jordan also enjoyed a sack lunch. They also helped to keep Kent State’s speedy running backs Justin Rankin and Jo-El Shaw in check.

Linebacker: A

Along with the D-line, this unit was quite active and helped hold Kent State to grand total of 41 yards rushing. Cam Brown led the way in tackles with seven of them (including two tackles for a loss) and Micah Parsons also picked up five tackles himself. It was also great to see Jesse Luketa (three tackles) get a lot of run in this game at the Mike linebacker spot, as it could pay dividends in Big Ten play when he may be relied upon more.

Secondary: B

Aside from Amani Orurwariye’s missed interception that led to a deep touchdown pass early on for Kent State, this unit played fairly well, allowing only 181 yards through the air and being very effective in run support (shout-out to Jonathan Sutherland’s five tackles). They also did a far better job of wrapping up on their tackles and not allowing yards after the catch from Kent State’s receivers. Shout-out to Lamont Wade for grabbing a sack for this unit.

Special Teams: A-

The minus for the kickoff unit getting caught with their pants down for the second time in the past few weeks on an onside kick. Otherwise, it was a solid afternoon for the special teams, especially since KJ Hamler helped to boost PSU’s momentum going into the locker room with his clutch kickoff return to midfield that set up a TD drive right before the half, along with a 33-yard punt return in garbage time. Blake Gillikin only punted twice and boomed both his punts for an average of nearly 49 yards (long of 58). Rafael Checa put his kickoffs into the end zone routinely, while Jake Pinegar remains perfect on extra points. DeAndre Thompkins also took three punt returns back for a total of 62 yards, including a 32-yard return.