Five Things We Learned: Indiana
No. 18 Penn State snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Indiana 33-28 at a very windy Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN. The Nittany Lions improved to 5-2 on the season while the Hoosiers fell to 4-4.
Next week, the Nittany Lions will return home to Beaver Stadium for a matchup with the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes. Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s game.
1. Trace McSorley’s legs were the key to this game
Although his streak of 34 consecutive games with a touchdown pass was snapped, McSorley’s presence on the field was still huge on Saturday. He was Penn State’s leading rusher with 19 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns. When McSorley is able to get it going on the ground and in the air, good things always happen for this offense.
2. The defense took a step back from the last two games
The last two games we had seen vast improvements from the defense. On Saturday though, a lot of the early season problems returned. Indiana was running the ball well, especially on first down. There were lots of holes for Indiana's backs to run through and receivers to get open. There were a lot of good individual performances from guys like Shaka Toney, Yeteur Gross-Matos and Micah Parsons, but we saw a little regression from the defense on Saturday. Garrett Taylor was also ejected for targeting in the third quarter and will miss the first half of next week’s game. That could be a factor next week.
3. Special teams errors were a problem
Minus the 94-yard kickoff return by Jonathan Thomas, this was a disastrous day on special teams for Penn State. There were three muffed punts, but the wind could have played a factor in those. Penn State had an extra point blocked. They ran a fake punt, which amounted to nothing and let’s not forget about the onside kick disaster at the end of the game. This is another recurring theme in Penn State games. It’s one of the things that they need to fix.
4. Tommy Stevens was back
Everyone was waiting all season for the return of the Penn State lion Tommy Stevens. We saw a little bit against Ohio State but for little success. Today we saw how dangerous the Tommy Stevens package could be with the 23-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth that turned out to be a big play in the game. It will be interesting to see how James Franklin and the coaching staff use Stevens moving forward.
5. Win or lose, this teams finds ways to make games exciting
No team is ever out of the game in the fourth quarter when you’re up against Penn State. Again we saw a two-score lead for the Nittany Lions turn into a hold your breath type of game. They were able to hold on this week, but as everyone knows, haven’t been as lucky in past weeks. With three straight games against ranked opponents starting next week, this should be another stretch of exciting games for the Nittany Lions.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.