football Edit

Penn State football depth chart: Using Week 1 to predict Week 2

Penn State is not releasing a depth chart in 2021 for competitive advantage reasons, but Saturday's win at Wisconsin offered a pretty good glimpse at where things stand.

Head coach James Franklin had already confirmed the winners of a number of position battles before the Lions even traveled to Madison, where they ultimately beat the Badgers 16-10, and so much of what we learned came on the reserves front.

With Week 1 in the books, it's time to take a look at what the depth chart could look like in Week 2.

Jesse Luketa played mostly defensive end against Wisconsin but will see more linebacker work opposite Ball State. BWI photo/Steve Manuel
Jesse Luketa played mostly defensive end against Wisconsin but will see more linebacker work opposite Ball State. BWI photo/Steve Manuel

Quarterback

Starter: No. 14 Sean Clifford

Backup: No. 2 Ta’Quan Roberson

The Lowdown: No surprises or changes here, of course, and yes, Christian Veilleux did travel with the team during his first road game in blue and white as expected.

Running Back

Starter: No. 21 Noah Cain

Backup: No. 24 Keyvone Lee

Third-string: No. 28 Devyn Ford

The Lowdown: There's no change to the two-deep here, either, but with John Lovett not making the trip for undisclosed reasons, it means that Devyn Ford is third in line, for now, and Caziah Holmes may even be in front of the Baylor transfer depending on what he is dealing with.

Wide Receiver 

Wide Receiver

Starter: No. 5 Jahan Dotson

Backup: No. 6 Cam Sullivan-Brown

Wide Receiver

Starter: No 13 KeAndre Lambert Smith

Backup: No 16 Cam Sullivan-Brown

Wide Receiver

Starter: No. 3 Parker Washington

Backup: No. 89 Winston Eubanks

The Lowdown: This was a three-man show, for the most part, as Dotson, Lambert-Smith, and Washington played 50, 50, and 33 snaps, respectively, while Eubanks, who transferred in from Shippensburg, netted six and Sullivan-Brown four. Daniel George did not line up for any offensive snaps, nor did Liam Clifford or Harrison Wallace III.

Tight End

The Penn State Nittany Lion football program is very deep at the tight end position with Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson.
Tight end Theo Johnson may not start against Wisconsin, but he'll be a major weapon for the Nittany Lions in 2021.

Starter: No. 86 Brenton Strange

Backup: No. 84 Theo Johnson

Third-string: No. 44 Tyler Warren

The Lowdown: This went pretty much as expected. Warren saw six snaps total and we saw plenty of two tight end sets and even a couple when all three were on the field.

Offensive Line

Left Tackle

Starter: No. 53 Rasheed Walker

Backup: No. 74 Olu Fashanu

Left Guard

Starter/Backup: No. 68 Eric Wilson OR No. 55 Anthony Whigan

Center

Starter: No. 73 Mike Miranda

Backup: No. 72 Bryce Effner OR No. 70 Juice Scruggs

Right Guard

Starter: No. 70 Juice Scruggs

Backup: No. 75 Des Holmes OR No. 72 Bryce Effner

Right Tackle

Starter: No. 79 Caedan Wallace

Backup: No. 58 Landon Tengwall

The Lowdown: We are going to leave the OR designation between Wilson and Whigan for one more week, but Wilson playing 41 snaps to Whigan's 13 probably tells us all we need to know here. Saleem Wormley has also been dropped from the backup guard spots after he didn't make the trip.

Defensive Line

Defensive End

Starter: No. 46 Nick Tarburton

Backup: No. 40 Jesse Luketa

Third-string: No. 92 Smith Vilbert

Defensive Tackle

Starter: No. 97 PJ Mustipher

Backup: No. 53 Fred Hansard

Third-string: No. 56 Amin Vanover

Defensive Tackle

Starter: No. 54 Derrick Tangelo

Backup: No. 91 D'Von Ellies

Third-string: No. 56 Amin Vanover or No. 99 Coziah Izzard

Defensive End

Starter: No. 17 Arnold Ebiketie

Backup: No. 40 Jesse Luketa

Third-string: No. 92 Smith Vilbert

The Lowdown: There were a couple of shakeups here compared to what we expected. First, Hakeem Beamon didn't make the trip, so his status is unclear heading into Week 2, and thus he has been dropped from the depth chart. Ellies is a new addition to it after he played 48 snaps in Madison and performed quite well. Zuriah Fisher also saw a few snaps and may work his way up the chart in future weeks.

Linebacker

The Penn State Nittany Lion football program has three solid linebackers in Brandon Smith, Ellis Brooks and Curtis Jacobs.
Linebacker Brandon Smith played some of his best games late in 2020, and he'll be expected to have a big season in 2021.

WILL Linebacker

Starter: No. 12 Brandon Smith

Backup: No. 45 Charlie Katshir

Middle Linebacker

Starter: No. 40 Jesse Luketa

Backup: No. 13 Ellis Brooks

SAM Linebacker

Starter: No. 23 Curtis Jacobs

Backup: No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland

The Lowdown: Obviously Brooks is the starter at middle linebacker, but it would be inaccurate to predict a Week 2 depth chart and list him with the first-team since he must sit out the first half of the Ball State game due to his targeting ejection late in the win over Wisconsin. Luketa will start in his place. It's also worth noting that Katshir played quality snaps in the opener.

Secondary

Cornerback

Starter: No. 5 Tariq Castro-Fields

Backup: No. 4 Kalen King

Safety

Starter: No. 16 Ji’Ayir Brown

Backup: No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland

Safety

Starter: No. 1 Jaquan Brisker

Backup: No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland

Cornerback

Starter: No. 9 Joey Porter Jr.

Backup: No. 25 Daequan Hardy OR No. 4 Kalen King

The Lowdown: This week, we dropped Keaton Ellis from the safety list since he didn't make the trip, and also deleted Tyler Rudolph since only Brown, Sutherland, and Brisker played at safety. King was the first reserve corner off the bench, while Hardy was the starting nickelback as expected.

Special Teams 

Kicker: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Punter: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Kickoff specialist: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Punt returner: No. 5 Jahan Dotson

Kick returners: No. 24 Keyvone Lee and No. 28 Devyn Ford

The Lowdown: The big question mark here is whether or not Jake Pinegar will be used more moving forward after he stood on the sideline and watched Stout miss both a short field goal and an extra point. Both of those kicks have gone to Pineagr in previous seasons, and he was available but not used. Will that change in Week 2? We'll see.

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