Game Preview: Penn State vs. Idaho

Audio/Story posted August 28, 2019 in CommRadio, Sports by Will Desautelle

Matt McClure, Kevin McConlogue, Jeremy Ganes and Logan Dolby preview Penn State vs. Idaho:

James Franklin will trot out a new look Penn State team as he will begin his sixth season at the helm Saturday against the Idaho Vandals, hailing from the FCS Big Sky conference.

The Nittany Lions will transition from three years of Trace McSorley, the program’s all-time leading passer, to redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford. Clifford has a strong, accurate arm, which was flashed in mop-up duty several times last season, and has improved athletically over the past year as well.

Penn State loses its leading rusher in Miles Sanders, but the backfield should be much deeper and should attack defenses with more of a committee approach in 2019. Sophomore Ricky Slade is expected to receive the bulk of the carries, but sophomore Journey Brown and freshmen Noah Cain and Devyn Ford should all push for carries too.

Frequent drops plagued Penn State’s offense last season, but it returns tight end Pat Freiermuth and wide receiver KJ Hamler, one of the most explosive players in the country. Sophomores Jahan Dotson and Justin Shorter will round out a receiving corps that should be much improved in 2019.

The offensive line is a preseason question mark again after losing three starters in the offseason. The return of Steven Gonzalez, Michal Menet and Will Fries will help, but freshman Rasheed Walker’s progress throughout the season will be the x-factor.

Defensively, Penn State could boast its most athletic unit in Franklin’s tenure thus far. Micah Parsons returns for his sophomore season after leading the team in tackles last year without even starting a game.

Potential first-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos headlines a deep group of defensive ends. Jayson Oweh could be a breakout candidate in 2019 with his 4.33 speed.

The secondary has stability with John Reid and Tariq Castro-Fields locking down the two corner spots, along with safety Garrett Taylor, returning after a strong finish to last season. The biggest question will be who starts alongside Taylor. The favorite is former five-star Lamont Wade, who has failed to live up to expectations in his first two seasons.

Punter Blake Gillikin is healthy again and should return to his sophomore season form in 2019 while kicker Jake Pinegar will look to build on a solid freshman season. Jordan Stout should also provide an upgrade on kickoffs.

Idaho is coming off a 4-7 (3-5 Big Sky) season. Last season, its defense was near the bottom of the FCS, allowing 37.5 points a game. However, the team does return its leading tackler in Christian Elliss at linebacker. Overall, Idaho has five of its top 11 tacklers returning.

Jalen Hoover and Lloyd Hightower lead a talented Idaho secondary, and 10 new transfers on the defensive side of the ball should provide some help. Three of them are from the FBS level: Western Michigan DB Davontae Ginwright, Boise State DL Kayode Rufai and Boise State DB Mujeeb Rufai.

Idaho additionally returns eight starters on offense, including four starters on the offensive line, headlined by preseason FCS First Team All-American Noah Johnson.

Idaho loses its top two rushers from a year ago but does return quarterback Mason Petrino for his senior year. Petrino has several weapons returning, including two of the team’s top pass catchers in Cutrell Haywood and Jeff Cotton. The duo combined for 100 catches for 1,145 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

The Vandals also return punter Cade Coffey, who is a preseason FCS Third Team All-American.

Penn State is very young on offense and could be slow to start out of the gate, but the talent gap between the two teams is too wide for this one to be close for long. Don’t expect a repeat of Penn State’s opener against Appalachian State last year.

Prediction: Penn State 45, Idaho 10

Will Desautelle is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

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Will Desautelle

Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Spanish

Will Desautelle is a senior from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in sports journalism. Will is a contributor for Centre County Report and is a staff writer for, covering Penn State men’s hockey and women’s and men’s volleyball. He also covered Super Bowl LIV in Miami for CommRadio and is one of the station’s editors. This past summer, Will interned at ABC-7/WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and covered the Little League World Series as a beat writer for Little League International. Will has also completed internships with State College Magazine, the State College Spikes and Additionally, he is a member of the Penn State Men’s Club Volleyball team, which finished first place at nationals in 2019, and is a member of the THON Communications Committee. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @wdesautelle.

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Kevin McConlogue

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Kevin is a Senior from Scranton, PA. He is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. During his time with CommRadio he has written articles and been a part of podcasts for many of Penn State’s sports teams. He has also been a beat writer and done Play by Play. In the future he hopes to do play by play for national television or radio or have his own sports talk show. To contact him email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Matthew McClure

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

With his hard-work and dedication to excellence, Matthew McClure looks to achieve future goals in sports broadcasting. He is from Glenmoore, Pennsylvania and a senior broadcast journalism major at Pennsylvania State University. He has experience working in sports and is willing to work outside his comfort zone. Matthew served as an active member at CommRadio, where he performed many different play by play broadcasts, wrote articles, and is a host of his NBA talk radio show Half Court. The past two summers, Matthew moved to Florida to work as an communications intern at the Florida Collegiate Summer Baseball League. There, he broadcasted every game for the Seminole County Scorpions, and was presented with the Sara Whiting Young Professionals Award.

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Logan Dolby

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Logan Dolby is a senior studying broadcast journalism, and is an all around sports fan. He loves everything about sports. He is from Pulaski, Pennsylvania. Currently, he is working towards perfecting his ability of crafting his sports takes and working with all of the technology required for a job in broadcast journalism.
He has experience with Adobe Audition and Premiere, as well as editing, broadcasting play by play, producing, working a sound board and podcasting. He also has two years of experience in hosting a live radio show, Half Court.

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Jeremy Ganes

Senior / Journalism

Jeremy Ganes is an aspiring sports broadcaster and journalist at Penn State. He writes articles, produces broadcasts, and announces games for the CommRadio sports department. He also co-hosts an NFL-focused talk show called 4th & Long that airs live on CommRadio, alongside DJ Bauer. In addition to CommRadio content, Jeremy also assists in production and serves as an on-air personality to the PSNtv show Penn State Sports Night, where he covers sports such as baseball and football. He is also a reporter and producer for the Centre County Report. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).