Five things we learned: Appalachian State

Story posted September 1, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Hunter Pitcoff

Despite almost putting its season in jeopardy, No. 10 Penn State was able to edge out Appalachian State in the 45-38 victory.

While the overtime thriller made for great football, the Nittany Lions will need to make adjustments as they travel to Heinz Field to face the Pitt Panthers next Saturday.  That being said, here are the five things we learned from the Appalachian State game:

1. Trace McSorley shines when the lights are the brightest

While the offense struggled toward the end of the regulation, senior quarterback Trace McSorley was able to lead the Nittany Lions down the field to tie up the game 38 a piece.  He finished the game throwing for 230 yards as well as adding 53 yards on the ground.  Battle tested to say the least, McSorley was able to galvanize the offense enough to keep the Nittany Lions in the game.  Without Joe Moorhead to call the shots anymore, McSorley appears ready to take on more responsibility than he had a season ago.

2. No Saquon, no problem

With former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley moving on to the NFL, many believed it would be tough for the Nittany Lions to replace his production.  While there’s no one player that can do so on the roster, it seems that a committee of players will be able to keep the rushing attack a strength for the Nittany Lions once again. The run game totaled 204 yards and five touchdowns en route to the win.  Junior and freshman running backs Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade were able to pull off some impressive runs.  It’s worth mentioning that McSorley can make defenders miss in open space as well.  While it’s difficult to imagine as many explosive plays on the ground without Barkley, the Nittany Lions’ run game may be the ultimate stabilizer for their team.

3. The secondary needs to improve its trust and chemistry

While the Mountaineers produced 292 yards in the air, it appeared to be much greater when watching the game.  Sophomore quarterback Zac Thomas was successful in finding the open holes in the Nittany Lions’ secondary, resulting in multiple chunk-yardage plays.  It’s also worth noting that the Mountaineers’ receivers came up with plenty of 50-50 balls when in man-to-man coverage.  Even though senior cornerback Amani Oruwariye came up with the game-clinching interception in overtime, the secondary as a whole needs to tighten up and communicate better if they want to make a legitimate push towards the College Football Playoff.

4. Penn State was able to win the penalty battle

While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s the little things that count in the long run. The Nittany Lions were only called for two penalties resulting in the loss of 10 yards, whereas the Mountaineers were flagged nine times and lost 100 yards in the process.  The team that wins the penalty battle normally wins the game, especially if it’s by a wide margin.  Not saying this was the main reason for the Nittany Lions’ victory, but this will play a pivotal role for future success if they keep it up.

5. Beaver Stadium was loud and electric for the opening game

The crowd noise definitely played some sort of the factor.  The Mountaineers were forced to burn a timeout midway through the game, and that may have been caused by the noise levels in Beaver Stadium.  The Nittany Lions’ are known to have one of the most loyal and energetic fan sections in the country, and that will certainly be needed later on in the season when the team hosts some of the top teams in the Big Ten.

 

 

Hunter Pitcoff is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact him, email hxp80@psu.edu.