1. The Defensive Line’s Pass Rush
Although the defensive line has been wreaking havoc in the run game since the beginning of the season, it hadn’t really left its mark when it comes to getting after the quarterback — that is, until Saturday against Purdue. Shaka Toney finished with three sacks, Yetur Gross-Matos had two sacks, Fred Hansard and Jayson Oweh chipped in with one a piece, and Antonio Shelton and Robert Windsor each had a half-a-sack.
It was a much needed outing from a group that has looked fantastic in just about every facet, but just couldn’t get home to the quarterback in previous games. With Penn State moving into the tougher portion of its schedule, it will need complete games from the talented defensive front — and that includes sacks.
2. The Freshmen Running Backs
Heading into the season, I was pretty certain that Ricky Slade would be Penn State’s top running back (more on him a little later), but through five games, and the two freshmen — Noah Cain and Devyn Ford — have both staked claim to that honor.
Cain, specifically, looked extra impressive on Saturday. The Florida four-star finished the game with 105 yards on just 12 carries, and when you factor in his work on a fourth quarter touchdown drive (runs of 11 yards, 16 yards, 8 yards, 27 yards, and 2 yards), it’s becoming clearer and clearer that he should continue to see his role increase. The dude won’t blow you away like previous Penn State freshman running backs have, but Cain is just good. He certainly doesn’t play like a freshman.
I DIDN’T LIKE...
1. Fall Weddings
I had to watch this game from my phone outside of a church because my junior year roommate decided to get married at 1:00 p.m. during a Penn State game. I’m not mad about it, but kind of selfish of him to not think about ME during his wedding day.
Congrats to the newlyweds, though! Beautiful ceremony. I wish you a happy and healthy future.
2. Overthinking From Ricky Slade
I usually refrain from calling out specific players in this section, but Ricky Slade is too explosive and shifty to look this ordinary. It’s clear he’s thinking way too much when it comes to not fumbling, and it is carrying over into his inability to make big-time plays. With Penn State heading into a real stretch of games, Slade is in real danger of losing a spot in the running back rotation — which is a shame considering how explosive and talented he is.