Game Grades: Indiana
Led by a quick-hitting 28-point first half, the Nittany Lions throttled the Indiana Hoosiers, 45-14. Be that as it may, this was not the perfect game for Penn State, as we saw a little bit of struggle on certain sides of the ball.
McSorley threw for 315 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. On paper, McSorley had an impressive game. Yet, reality tells a different story. McSorley ran the read option for much of the game. He continued to make the wrong reads and either set himself up for failure, or set up his running back, Saquon Barkley for failure.
Running Back: B
The highlights will show you Barkley’s 98-yard kick-return touchdown, his one-handed snag and scamper for 36 yards and a first, and his Boobie Miles impersonation for a passing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. What they won’t display is his struggle of the ground, with only 56 yards on 20 carries. This, being against a team that was absolutely torched by Ohio State freshman J.K. Dobbins for 181 yards, makes Barkley’s performance one that is rather underwhelming. While this was much due to the struggles of the offensive line and quarterback, what you’d like to see from a Heisman frontrunner would be being able to overcome that adversity.
Wide Receivers: A
Senior wide receiver Desean Hamilton headlined the wide receiver corps in Saturday’s game. Hamilton had nine receptions for 122 yards on a day where he passed Deon Butler for most receptions as a Penn State Nittany Lion. The rest of the wideouts all contributed when needed, including Juwan Johnson absolutely toying with defenders in the second half. Drops were few and far between as the wide receivers put on an impressive performance.
Tight End: C
Mike Gesicki left for the locker room late in the first half with a back injury after receiving a hit after an 11-yard reception. He didn’t play in the second half, but with the game seemingly not in question, this should be no indication on the severity of the injury. Gesicki provided three receptions and 19 yards on his short day.
Offensive Line: C-
The O-line struggled to set up the offense for opportunities for Barkley and McSorely to make a huge impact in the running game. Indiana ended up getting five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. These numbers are less than ideal for a team with hopes for the College Football Playoff later in the year.
This game once again showed how imposing and dominant the Penn State defense is capable of being. Holding the dangerous passing offense of Indiana to only 175 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, Penn State proved that their secondary is indeed a prominent force in the Big Ten. Jason Cabinda, Manny Bowen and Brandon Smith combined for 29 tackles, showing the deep linebacker corps can once again hold its own in conference play. The lone hiccup in the Penn State defense was the defensive line’s inability to finish plays behind the line of scrimmage. In several occurrences, the line of Penn State would collapse the pocket and send Indiana’s quarterback scrambling. However, this only led to one sack on the day. This will probably be a point of emphasis heading into next week.
Special Teams: B+
Blake Gillikin once again proved he is NFL-bound with a great game averaging 46.5 yards per punt with a long of 57 yards. The same cannot be said for kicker, Tyler Davis. Davis was 1-3 for field goals with one blocked and one missed. This really brought down the grade for the special teams on an otherwise incredible day because in close games, you want to be confident in your kicker. Tyler Davis is testing that trust with James Franklin seemingly weekly. Other than that, Saquon Barley did what Saquon Barkley does. He ran back the opening kickoff for 98 yards and a touchdown. Penn State also scored on a forced fumble by their punt team that was returned for a touchdown. This impressive performance by the special teams masked a sub-standard first half by the Penn State offense.
This game proved that even a mediocre game by Penn State can lead to a blow-out over a mediocre team. Penn State tries to improve its performance against Northwestern next Saturday at noon.
Christian Katt is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.