Surprises and Disappointments for Penn State Football, So Far

Story posted September 22, 2017 in CommRadio by Zach Seyko

It is only week four and the first away game for Penn State, but it is never too early to evaluate its overall performance.

The Nittany Lions are 3-0 after defeating the Akron Zips, Pittsburgh Panthers and Georgia State Panthers handily.

Head coach James Franklin and company have pitched two shutouts and the offense has looked as dynamic as last season.

Against Georgia State, eight different Nittany Lions crossed the plain for a touchdown, as they flexed their muscles in a 56-0 victory just before Big Ten play with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

While Penn State has looked the same throughout the season so far, there have been some players who have surprised and disappointed with their play so far.


There were a lot of Nittany Lion fans and college football analysts who were very excited for former Nittany Lion Chris Godwin’s replacement. That replacement was redshirt sophomore Juwan Johnson.

Johnson towers at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds with incredible athletic abilities to make corners in the Big Ten look silly. Well, Johnson has not exactly reached his potential, yet.

Against the Zips, Johnson recorded four receptions and 84 yards proving his believers to be right, but then submitted two dud games against both Panther teams.

Johnson has only tallied three receptions and 21 yards since the season opener and has not found pay dirt once.

Big Ten secondary units are much more talented, so Johnson will have a tougher time finding his stride if he still hopes to be the breakout receiver everyone hoped he would.

SURPRISE: QB Tommy Stevens

How is the backup quarterback a surprise when redshirt junior Trace McSorley is performing just fine? Stevens has become a multi-purpose weapon in coordinator Joe Moorhead’s offense.

Stevens has lined up at quarterback, receiver and running back this year and is responsible for a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown. How is this anything but surprising to the average college football fan?

Stevens is too athletic and dynamic to leave on the sideline, and it is nice to see Moorhead work the redshirt sophomore into his scheme.

Tommy Stevens is just another headache added to an already electrifying Penn State unit for opposing defenses. Stevens can literally do it all, proving to be an asset with his legs and hands rather than his arm.

SURPRISE: CB Grant Haley

As an underclassman, Haley struggled to keep up with the caliber of play that opposing receivers brought to the games, but now Haley is quietly becoming a shutdown cornerback.

In just three games, Haley has one INT in each of the Akron and Pittsburgh games, tying his season high total for interceptions.

In addition, Haley has also recorded a sack and a pass defense, showing that he is effective on the cornerback blitz.

Along with senior safety Marcus Allen, Haley’s impressive improvement is helping Penn State’s secondary forget its struggles from last season.

SURPRISE: DT Robert Windsor

The redshirt sophomore is tearing offensive lines a part and he isn’t even a starter. Defensive tackles usually aren’t asked to do much, but Windsor has gone above and beyond.

Windsor is eighth on the team in total tackles with eight and has added 1.5 tackles for loss and sack to go along with it.

Windsor has been a bright spot for the middle of the trenches, while Parker Cothren, Curtis Cothran and Kevin Givens have remained silent so far.


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