The expectations for Pat Freiermuth were about as high as can be for an individual, with hopes that he would continue to be a difference maker for the Penn State offense with a promising chance of being named an All-American and John Mackey Award recipient as the nation’s top tight end.
To anyone unfamiliar with Freiermuth prior to Saturday, it did not take long for him to be noticed as someone who is steamrolling his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. While an argument can be made that a player of Freiermuth’s status didn’t receive enough targets, he certainly made the most every time Sean Clifford looked his way.
Freiermuth kicked off the scoring with a two-yard touchdown reception on Penn State’s opening drive. Unfortunately, it would be the last points the Nittany Lions would score until the final play of the third quarter. But Freiermuth did all he could to lead the charge on a day when the offense continued to fail to produce, despite being able to move the ball up and down the field. He was always prepared to make a catch when called upon, typically finding ways to shake his defender, make the necessary adjustment with his body, and snatch the ball out of the air like he had superglue covering both hands. Even though he has played at a high level since coming to Happy Valley, he somehow looked like he took another major step this offseason.
Freiermuth finished the day with a team-high seven receptions for 60 yards and a score.
DE Shaka Toney
The senior defensive end continued his dominance of all things Indiana, leading the defense with seven tackles. Most importantly, he had two clutch sacks and a quarterback pressure that, under normal circumstances, should have iced the victory for the Nittany Lions.
WR Jahan Dotson
Penn State’s only returning wideout with quality experience caught four passes, and gave the team a late lead with a 60-yard touchdown reception that put the Nittany Lions ahead 21-20 with 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
QB Sean Clifford
Clifford got off to an abysmal start, tossing two interceptions that helped Indiana build a lead with a 17-0 second quarter. However, he was able to quickly put it behind him as he finished the day completing 69 percent of his passes with three touchdowns. He also helped put the offense on his back by taking what the Hoosiers were giving him on the ground, often taking off when a hole developed on his way to a 119-yard rushing effort, including a 35-yard touchdown that was reminiscent of Trace McSorley trying to will the team to victory.
CB Joey Porter Jr.
Porter made the most of his first career start with five tackles and a sack that forced a quick three-and-out on the Hoosiers opening drive.