The middle of the three defining games in Penn State’s 2022 football schedule is now done, a 45-17 win at Beaver Stadium against Minnesota.
Before fully turning the page to next week’s Big Noon matchup against Ohio State, here are three takeaways from the White Out win.
- Tight Ends - They Exist
The criticism for Penn State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has been the lack of imaginative use of the tight end room. Remember, that’s a room that Franklin has lauded for its talent.
Well, that talent was on display on Saturday night.
Theo Johnson had more catches in the first half (3) than he had all season up to this point (2), including his first touchdown.
Meanwhile, Tyler Warren looked healthy and came up with a touchdown to give Penn State the lead in the second quarter.
Mostly, for the first time since the Auburn game, it looked like Yurcich had a plan on how to attack Minnesota’s tendencies and to exploit mismatches. Penn State’s use of the tight ends allowed Clifford and company to stretch the field and ultimately allowed for some rushing room for Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen.
For the night, Penn State’s offense finished with 479 yards despite a slow start in the first quarter.
2. Diaz’s Defense Answers Questions
Starting defensive end Nick Tarburton noted earlier in the week that Penn State’s defense spent a lot of time watching film of their disastrous performance at Michigan together.
Facing a Minnesota team with a familiar gameplan and ideology, the Nittany Lions were up to the fight on Saturday night.
Penn State stuffed the run, making star running back Mo Ibrahim work for all 102 of his yards with a good deal of those coming on a relatively meaningless, and time consuming, fourth-quarter drive. That put pressure on a first-time starting quarterback allowing just 2-of-13 third down conversions and Ji’Ayir Brown came up with a critical third-quarter interception.
The Lions will face their biggest challenge next Saturday when Ohio State Heisman hopeful C.J. Stroud and his talented group of wide receivers come to Happy Valley. It was nice to see Penn State answer some criticism heading into that matchup.
3. White Out a Key
Credit to Penn State’s White Out crowd for bringing a ton of energy to a team that was still feeling a bit of an early hangover on Saturday night.
Last year, Beaver Stadium was lifeless in the nine overtime loss to Illinois. It was the exact opposite against the Gophers with a number of presnap penalties by Minnesota that could be attributed to the crowd.
It was only the fourth time ever that Penn State entered a full stadium White Out off a loss. Much like in a 2014 win against Michigan, the Lions seemed to feast on the extra noise in coming away with the win.
Also - one last thing - the Generations of Greatness uniforms looked wonderful under those Saturday night lights.