Penn State entered Beaver Stadium on Saturday flying high after a week one domination of Idaho.
The Nittany Lions left the stadium flying pretty high as well after a 45-13 victory over Buffalo, but what happened in between was a bit vexing.
What fans saw was inconsistent play, some great and some not so great, on the way to what the scoreboard tells you want a pretty comfortable victory.
With that said, we take a look at who improved and dropped their stock the most in week two.
If there’s one player that was pretty consistently great for the Nittany Lions on Saturday night, it was new starting quarterback Sean Clifford. Clifford finished the night 16 of 22 for 279 yards, four touchdowns and an additional 51 yards on the ground. His second half performance, in particular, was outstanding as Penn State put the pedal down and pulled away from the Bulls.
It may have taken longer than some expected, but it’s safe to say that cornerback John Reid is back to 100 percent after tearing his ACL ahead of the 2017 season. Reid’s huge pick six in the early third quarter of Saturday’s game catapulted Penn State to 38-3 second half margin of victory. Reid’s interception was his second in two games and with he opposite Tariq Castro-Fields the Nittany Lions have one of the best tandems in the Big Ten, if not the country.
A big part of Clifford’s early season success is the fact that he has some fantastic receiving weapons. Fans knew about KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth, and many expect big things from Justin Shorter, but it was Jahan Dotson’s time to shine against Buffalo. Dotson caught four balls for 109 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulls. He’s one of the best route runners on the team and has soft hands, much like he No. 5-wearing predecessor DaeSean Hamilton.
It’s early days, but my breakout selection for the 2019 season has yet to break out. Worse so, Slade has put the ball on the ground a pair of times around, something no coach wants to see. We all know what Slade is capable of in the open field, but he’s seemed uncomfortable in between the tackles. Given the glut of talent in the Penn State backfield, he’ll have to get it going quickly if he wants to keep his starting spot.
Matt Limegrover/The Interior Offensive Line
Fumbles aside, much of Slade’s issues can be placed at the feet of the offensive line, particularly those in the interior. The Nittany Lions were unable to get any traction in the run game despite having road graders Steven Gonzalez and CJ Thorpe in there. If guys were getting confused in protections I would understand some of the issues, but much of the run blocking just comes down to getting low and driving your opponents off the ball. It just makes no sense that the Nittany Lions have struggled to do this so often over the last few years.