Game Grades: Pitt

Story posted September 10, 2017 in CommRadio by Charles Hart

Penn State avenged last year’s painful loss to Pitt with a 33-14 victory at home on Saturday.

Here are the game grades for the Nittany Lions’ dominant Week 2 win.

Quarterback: C

Trace McSorley had an up and down performance against Pitt in terms of accuracy. McSorley’s first half featured a series of poorly thrown balls out of the reach of his receivers. His accuracy improved in the second half, but his 15-28,164-yard performance was a big reason for Penn State’s slow start offensively. McSorley was also able to add 65 yards on the ground, including a 36-yard run on third down.

Running Back: A-

Saquon Barkley was surprisingly limited by the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff against Pitt. He only received five carries in the entire first half. Even with a reduced workload, Barkley finished the game with 14 carries for 88 yards and a rushing touchdown. He continues to be a valuable receiving threat for Penn State, as his 46-yard touchdown reception helped give his team some much needed breathing room early in the third quarter. Barkley now has 359 all-purpose yards on the season. Take note, Heisman voters.

Wide Receivers: C

Penn State receivers struggled to find much separation against Pitt’s secondary for the majority of the game. Juwan Johnson, fresh off an 84-yard game against Akron, recorded only four yards on one catch against Pitt. DeAndre Thompkins also recorded only one catch for 12 yards, although he did make a great block leading to a Mike Gesicki touchdown. The lone receiver to stand out on Saturday was DaeSean Hamilton, who continued his auspicious start to the season with a three-catch, 45-yard day.

Tight End: A

Mike Gesicki started the scoring off for Penn State with an 8-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter. Two drives later, Gesicki hauled in another touchdown pass inside the red zone.

Offensive Line: C+

The offensive line struggled to open up many running lanes for Saquon Barkley to run through the entire game. The unit also allowed one sack on the day.

Defense: A

This side of the ball is having quite the start to the season. After opening the season with a shutout, the Penn State defense continued to thrive, holding Pitt to only 14 points. With Penn State’s sluggish offense gave Pitt plenty of opportunities to get back into the game but the blue and white defense prevented Pitt from making Saturday’s game competitive. Standouts include Grant Haley, who recorded a sack and an interception, Marcus Allen, who led the team with 12 tackles, a crucial pass break on 3rd and 22 and a tackle which resulted in a safety, and Shareef Miller, who recorded two sacks.

Special Teams: A

Penn State punter Blake Gillikin was one of the most valuable contributors in Penn State’s win against Pitt. Pitt had drives that started inside their own 10-yard line on three separate occasions. Gillikin’s average punt traveled an impressive 43.2 yards. Kicker Tyler Davis was also able to connect on his lone field goal attempt.

Coaching: B

This game never seemed to be in doubt for Penn State. With that being said, Penn State let Pitt, a clearly inferior team, stick around in a game they had no business being competitive in. The coaching staff’s use of Saquon Barkley also raised many eyebrows. Barkley not being given carries early on helped lead to Penn State’s offense becoming stagnant. Using Barkley for the second straight week as a kick returner continued to strike fear in the heart of the Penn State faithful.

The Nittany Lions will look to continue their winning ways next week against Georgia State in a night game at Beaver Stadium.

Charles Hart is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email