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Three Key Takeaways: Penn State Blows Out Pitt

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THAT WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN WEEK ONE

NCAA Football: Penn State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

KJ Hamler/Miles Sanders Are STUDS

We’re two weeks into the 2018 season and KJ Hamler may already be one of Penn State’s top 10 players. That may be an overreaction, but whenever Hamler touches the ball so far this season, you hold your breath knowing he could take it to the house with every time.

On Saturday against the Panthers, Hamler saw himself pick up his first career rushing touchdown, a 32-yarder on a jet sweep that put Penn State up 7-0. He also caught his second career touchdown pass in the game, giving the Nittany Lions a 14-6 edge going into the half. Going forward, Hamler should continue to grow with the offense, and should only get more dangerous as the season goes on.

When it comes to Miles Sanders, the junior running back waited his turn to be the star running back, and so far, the patience has paid off. Against Pitt, Sanders recorded his first career 100-yard game as he rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries. He now has 209 rushing yards this season on just 35 carries — not a bad start to the season for the former five-star recruit. If Saturday was any indication, Sanders is just getting started.

Note: I didn’t want to make this first key takeaway incredibly long but it’s worth noting that Micah Parsons deserves to be among Hamler and Sanders as stud players. The true freshman led the team in tackles in just his second game with the program.

GET THE JUG MACHINES GOING

The offense put up 51 points on Saturday against Pitt so you can’t really complain about much, right? Well, if there is one thing that should be complained about, that would be the drops that plagued the Nittany Lions throughout the game on Saturday. It didn’t matter which receiver it was, whether it was KJ Hamler, Juwan Johnson, or DeAndre Thompkins, they all had one drop at one point or another in the game. So while Trace McSorley finished 14-for-30 for the game, he probably should have had closer to 20 completions on the day, and a couple passing touchdowns to boot. You could chalk this one up to the wet weather, but it still needs to be cleaned up going forward.

Second Half Team...Again

Two weeks and eight quarters into the season, it’s starting to look like Penn State will once again be a strong second half team. After leading 14-6 going into halftime, the Nittany Lions exploded in the second half, putting up 37 points after a so-so- first half.

Meanwhile, the defense in the first half kept getting gashed by Pittsburgh, allowing the Panthers to pick up 231 total yards with 210 of those coming on the ground. In the second half however, the Nittany Lions adapted to the Pitt game plan, allowing just 35 rushing yards and 69 total yards. The second half should be used as a strong confidence builder for the defense going forward, especially after the rough finish to the App State game, and the rough start (at least yardage wise) against Pitt.