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Four Takeaways From Penn State’s Win Over Ball State

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Four takeaways from Penn State rolling over Ball State on Saturday afternoon

Heather Weikel

Ball State was sunk before the game started

For the first time since November 2019 Penn State was able to host 107K+ at Beaver Stadium. As expected, especially coming off a thrilling victory over Wisconsin to open the season, this led to an electric atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium.

Due to this atmosphere Ball State never had a chance in this game. Not only is Penn State the far superior team talent wise, this crowd was never going to let the Nittany Lions lose. Hell, it was never going to let this game be anything short of a blowout.

This may have been the most electric Beaver Stadium crowd I have ever seen for a non-Power 5 non-conference opponent. Shoot, there have been games against the Rutgers and Illinois of the world over the years with a lesser atmosphere than this.

Nittany Nation missed gathering at Beaver Stadium on fall Saturdays. I can not even begin to imagine what the White Out crowd will be like next Saturday night when a top-25 Auburn Tigers squad comes calling.

The Nittany Lion defense is one of Brent Pry’s best

After essentially carrying the Nittany Lions to a 16-10 road victory over then 12th ranked Wisconsin to start the season the Penn State put together another excellent game on Saturday.

Throughout the day Penn State’s defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage while their linebackers were fast and aggressive. The secondary continues to look like one of the best not just in the Big Ten but in the entire Power 5.

Penn State had a pair of interceptions, including a pick-6, on Saturday afternoon. They allowed just 295 yards of total offense and held the Cardinals to 69 (nice) yards rushing. The defense also lived behind the line of scrimmage and caused chaos throughout the game.

Arnold Ebiketie is looking like a first-team all-Big Ten player at defensive end, while safety Jaquan Brisker could legitimately make a run at first-team All-American honors. PJ Mustipher has been a terror at defensive tackle, Jesse Luketa looks like a new man as an EDGE rusher, the cornerbacks have been excellent, and Dvon Ellies, Nick Tarburton and Derrick Tangelo have all been disruptive as defensive linemen.

Not only is this arguably the most talented defense that Pry has had in his now six seasons as defensive coordinator in Happy Valley, it also looks like his fastest and most athletic. Through two weeks the Nittany Lion defense looks like one that has helped to position Penn State as one of the two best teams in the Big Ten along with Ohio State.

Eric Wilson is the new starter at left guard

Against Wisconsin former JUCO standout Anthony Whigan started at left guard. After the first three series of the game he was replaced by Harvard transfer Eric Wilson who played the rest of the game at left guard.

Wilson started at left guard on Saturday and appears to have a stranglehold on the job. Helping to lead the way for a potent Nittany Lion rushing attack Wilson took every rep at left guard through the firs three plus quarters of the game.

On Penn State’s second series of the 4th quarter Mike Miranda slid from center to left guard, while Juice Scruggs slid form right guard to center and Bryce Effner entered the game at right guard. Wilson then returned to the lineup later in the 4th quarter.

Wilson arrived on campus slightly behind the proverbial 8 ball due to missing spring ball and this was likely a factor in him not starting against Wisconsin. However, Wilson getting the majority of the reps at left guard against Wisconsin followed up by earning the start and most of the playing time against Ball State points toward Wilson as being the starter moving forward.

The offense still has work to do

Despite scoring 44 points the Penn State offense still has improvements to make. Sean Clifford missed some open receivers on Saturday as he, uncharacteristically, under threw some open receivers. That said, his decision making on when to tuck the balls, when to force a throw and the not throw away did improve.

That said, there were some hiccups in the second half. While the offense was light years better than it was against Wisconsin, shocker, when facing a front 7 that is not one of the 10 best in the country Penn State’s offense looked much better, there are still things to clean up.

Penn State only scored one offensive touchdown in the second half. While the second half on Saturday was not nearly as poor as the first half a week ago, it was not pretty, either. If Penn State is going to win the Big Ten, which seems very possible after Saturday’s outcomes, they will need to clean things up offensively.