Game Grades: Georgia State

Story posted September 17, 2017 in CommRadio by Zach Seyko

In a Saturday night game under the lights, the Penn State Nittany Lions dominated the Georgia State Panthers and recorded their second shutout victory of the season.

The 56-0 win was impressive and exciting to say the least. But, the Nittany Lions’ full arsenal of weapons was on display, as eight different players scored a touchdown.

On defense, the goose egg on the scoreboard stands out, but the team also forced five turnovers.

It was a total team effort by James Franklin and his men, as they enter Big Ten play next week against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

The final out of conference game versus Georgia State was an easy one, but Penn State showed how they are super talented and that they do not take any opponent lightly.

Here are the game grades for the Penn State Nittany Lions after Saturday night’s performance.

Quarterbacks: A

Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens were so effective against Georgia State that Billy Fessler was able to come in and handle a few snaps at the signal calling position. Statistically, McSorley had a heck of a night, finishing 18 of 23 for 309 yards and four touchdown passes.

Stevens took over in the third and threw an absolute dot to Saeed Blacknall after taking a hit from a Panthers defensive lineman. Stevens also caught a pass from McSorley, so the quarterbacks were able to hurt Georgia State in more ways than just their arms.

Running Backs: A+

The running backs went off last night, and everyone contributed from the group. Yes, Saquon Barkley only rushed for 47 yards against a team who lost to an FCS school, but he led all players in receiving, totaling four catches and 142 yards.

85 of those yards came on an improvisation by Barkley when he took a check down pass and burst past three Georgia State defenders for the second touchdown of the game. Sophomore back Miles Sanders had three carries for 44 yards and showed why he was a former five-star recruit.

He also turned on the jets on a broken play and found the end zone as a result. Andre Robinson had an electrifying run, taking it to the house down the Penn State sideline, collecting 39 yards on two carries.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: A-

I’m going to push these two together because Mike Gesicki, unfortunately, did not make much of an impact Saturday. The senior had two receptions for 26 yards and no scores. But, his receiver counterparts killed it through the air.

Brandon Polk, Blacknall and DaeSean Hamilton each caught a touchdown pass. The receivers and tight ends who saw the field combined for 199 total yards and three touchdowns.

Yes, Barkley led them in receiving, but that was partially due to the 85-yard check down play, which could essentially be considered a run play.

Offensive line: B

The offensive line performed admirably against Georgia State’s pressure. The guys in the trenches only allowed one QB sack, one QB hit and one QB hurry, according to ESPN’s game statistics.

From my point of view, it looked like McSorley and Stevens had a to evade pass rushers more than they should have, but overall the performance was good.

The unit was without one of its better blockers in Brandon Mahon, which definitely could be argued that it impacted its overall play.

Defensive line: B-

The defensive line recorded a team total of three sacks and 11 tackles for loss, but I believe they could have performed better. There were quite a few plays where they front four missed a tackle and let the play extend.

They also failed to contain Georgia State’s quarterbacks when they went to scramble. I expected a much better performance, so it was somewhat disappointing. The statistics say otherwise, but the numbers do not tell the entire story.

Also, a lot of the big plays came from the younger guys, which is reassuring for the future, but causes some skepticism about the starters in the short term.

The mistakes they made against the Panthers must be corrected because they won’t fly against quarterbacks like JT Barrett and the Big Ten teams.

Linebackers: B

The linebackers had a nice evening against the Panthers. Yes, they allowed 100 yards to Georgia State’s Taz Bateman, but a majority of his runs were broken off in the fourth against the third and fourth string defenders. Manny Bowen and Brandon Smith led the team led the team in tackles, along with freshman corner Lamont Wade.

Secondary: A-

Tariq Castro-Fields, Marcus Allen and Grant Haley each had a pick against Georgia State. The secondary held the Panther QBs to 170 total yards passing and under 50 percent completions.

The upper and under classmen stepped up when it mattered most, continuing to prove that the secondary has made strides to improve its play from a season ago.


Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email