football Edit

Grades: Rutgers

Penn State got its second win of the season yesterday against Rutgers, improving to 2-5.

The Nittany Lions rushed the ball for 248 yards, and although they lost the turnover battle (2 to 1), Penn State's defense held Rutgers in check all day with just 205 yards of total offense.

After reviewing the film this morning, we look back on yesterday's win with a look at how each position group performed.

Penn State Nittany Lions Football
Penn State's linebackers played their best game of the season against Rutgers.

Quarterback - If it's not broke, why fix it? That's what we saw yesterday, as Kirk Ciarrocca and Sean Clifford picked up right where they left off against Michigan. We're not going to see many throws down the field in the final two games, nor will they require more than two reads, but that's OK as long as Clifford protects the ball and has success on 1st and 2nd down. We're not sure why Will Levis isn't allowed to throw the ball, but he did run hard, albeit maybe a little more than needed.

Grade: B

Running Backs - This was the best game of Devyn Ford's career, which was great to see considering what happened to him last week with the death of his brother. However, without Noah Cain, this still feels like Keyvone Lee's opportunity to take command of this backfield, and although he played better against Michigan, he's still the guy they need to feed in critical situations. Can you imagine what he may be able to do between the tackles when Dwight Galt gets his hands on him? There's plenty of promise here.

Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends - It went under the radar a bit, but Penn State's wide receivers didn't play their best game, especially considering Rutgers' struggles in the secondary. Parker Washington had two key drops, as did KeAndre Lambert-Smith. They blocked pretty well, but separation is an issue that hasn't gone away for two years now. Speaking of blocking, both Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson did a great job on the edge. Strange had three good receptions on the first drive, and then wasn't targeted again.

Grade: C+

Offensive Line - Penn State dominated up front, although you can make an argument that Rutgers' defensive line was more so just bad than Penn State was good. If you replay the game, you'll see a lot of gap assignment mistakes by the Knights, which played a big part in Penn State's success rushing the ball. But when you also consider some of the struggles this unit had in the run game earlier this season, they deserve some love.

Grade: B+

Defensive Line - Antonio Shelton wasn't credited with a single tackle, yet he played his best game of the season, totaling four quarterback hurries, while also consistently disrupting Rutgers' interior run game. All four starters were consistent, and redshirt freshman Dvon Ellies had some good snaps, too, totaling three quarterback hurries and a sack. Rutgers' offensive line is just flat out bad, so keep that in mind, but nonetheless, this group played well.

Grade: B

Linebackers - For the first time this season, all three linebackers graded out among the top five starters. All three were tagged with at least one missed tackle, but overall, they've been much better the past two games, especially with gap assignments in the run game. Jesse Luketa led the team in tackles with 10, while Ellis Brooks was tied for second with seven.

Grade: B

Defensive Backs - Jaquan Brisker and Joey Porter Jr. both had good days, while Lamont Wade had arguably his best game in coverage. Daequan Hardy has to do a better job not getting bodied by Bo Melton on that touchdown pass, although Luketa didn't help him out, leaping behind instead of in front of Melton. But overall, Rutgers couldn't do much. Their longest pass of the day was just 19 yards.

Grade: B+

Special Teams - Jordan Stout and Jake Pinegar converted all three field goal attempts, although Stout's punting wasn't great. However, it's hard to be too critical considering the wind.

Grade: B

Coaching - It should be no surprise that after Clifford's interception in the third quarter, Penn State ran the ball 24 times out of the final 28 plays. Fans would've liked to have seen the Lions come out more aggressive in the third quarter, but as Nate Bauer pointed out, this is how Franklin has won before when he doesn't have a ton of confidence in his team. It wasn't always fun to watch, and we can all play Sunday quarterback, but turnovers were the only thing that would've allowed Rutgers back into the game Saturday. Going ultraconservative minimized that threat substantially.

Grade: B


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