Penn State finally got in the win column on Saturday in fairly satisfying fashion, downing Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan, 27-17 in Ann Arbor.
The Nittany Lions finally got the running game going on offense which opened up other avenues and made life easier on Sean Clifford, who most importantly not turn the ball over in the victory.
These are our three takeaways from that victory.
1. Penn State’s freshmen are going to be very good
All season long, Parker Washington has shown that he’s ready to be a big-time player for the Nittany Lions. The true freshman has gotten better with each successive week and had a big showing against the Wolverines, catching nine balls for 93 yards. He’s now second on the team with 30 receptions for 349 yards and three touchdowns on the year. With more time and development under Taylor Stubblefield, Washington could be special.
Likewise, Keyvone Lee was a workhorse on Saturday. Lee carried the ball 22 times for 134 yards and a score. He’s now second on the team in rushing to only Clifford, racking up 227 yards on 41 carries, an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense requires a back that can get downhill in a hurry and Lee has shown he can do just that.
Add in KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Theo Johnson, both of which have promising futures, and the Nittany Lions’ offensive freshmen are looking pretty promising.
2. The offense can work if executed correctly
Penn State’s offense was objectively good against Indiana. The Nittany Lions racked up over 500 yards, but turnovers and red zone troubles proved to be too much to overcomes. The red zone issues have persisted and need to be cleaned up, but Michigan showed that the offense can work.
Penn State accumulated 429 yards from scrimmage against the Wolverines, 266 of which came on the ground. The Nittany Lions controlled the clock and largely stayed ahead of the chains, which is how the offense is supposed to look.
If Clifford or whoever is running the offense can be more accurate and Penn State can find a deep threat then the Nittany Lions are in business.
3. Lol Jim Harbaugh
Look, Penn State has been terrible this season. The Nittany Lions sit at 1-5 and have been lifeless for the previous five week. But there are some reasonable excuses there.
What’s Jim Harbaugh’s excuse? The Wolverines got both of their best players back. They haven’t had similar COVID restricts. They’re not working in a new offense coordinator or a ton of new assistants. Harbaugh’s family isn’t half the country away. So what gives?
Maybe it’s just the fact that Jim isn’t all that good of a college football coach and it turns out much of his success at Stanford was predicated on the fact that Stanford was actually a decent job and Andrew Luck was a generationally good college quarterback. Nevertheless, I’ll enjoy watching Harbaugh coach the Detroit Lions next year.