Game Grades: Penn State vs. Army
It’s always hard to grade a quarterback when the game is dictated by the weather as much as it was yesterday. Hackenberg was 10-19 for 156 yards, which in and of itself are some underwhelming numbers. However, take into account the fact that it was cold, windy and rainy all game and also that Hackenberg didn’t turn the ball over, it was a good game for the junior. He played the game manager role to perfection in a game where that was what Penn State needed. Also, Hack connected with Mike Gesicki for their first touchdown pass of the season, which could bode well for the team if those two continue to hook up.
Running Backs: C
The run game for Penn State took a significant step back this game as they did not have their top two running backs in Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch. Mark Allen was a non-factor as he only had 17 yards on the ground. Penn State seemed to find some success with Nick Scott as he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and was able to scamper into the end zone as well. It was obvious that Penn State missed those two starting running backs and if Penn State wants to get back to ground dominance they will need to get one of them back.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends: B
It was a tough day for the wide outs as well, due to the weather and the fact that Hackenberg really didn’t throw the ball all that much. Chris Godwin has established himself as the primary target this season and he had 66 yards through the air. Mike Gesicki had the only touchdown grab for the Nittany Lions, his first of the season and on his birthday. Other than that the ball really didn’t make it down the field much as Penn State was hampered by the poor weather.
The line could have been better. They gave up multiple sacks and the running game was really held in check for most of the game. This was a team with injuries in the backfield, as mentioned, so that definitely played a factor in the run game as well. After not allowing Hackenberg to feel much pressure at all in the past three games, Army was able to get into the backfield of Penn State and disrupt the flow of the offense. As the Big Ten schedule is right around the corner, the line will need to be better.
It’s hard to give this unit a solid grade due to the fact that Penn State is known for stopping the run and this was an Army team that was only going to run. Penn State gave up 261 yards on the ground and that was with Army using their backup quarterback as well. The defense was also suffering from a few injuries as Marcus Allen was still out, all though his presence in the secondary really wouldn’t have played that big of a factor. Yes they recovered three fumbles, but all of those turnovers were self-inflicted for Army. Again, just like the offensive line, this unit as a whole needs to be better come next week as Indiana runs the ball just as much as Army.
Special Teams: B
The special teams unit would have probably gotten a solid B, except for the fact that once again the punting game was not good at all for Penn State. As a tandem, Chris Gulla and Daniel Pasquariello averaged just 32.5 yards per punt and the only reason that Penn State had solid field position during the game was due to the fact that often time’s Army was stopped on offense, at least in the first half. The kick return game was strong again as DeAndre Thompkins and Koa Farmer have done a great job on punts and kickoffs all season.
The game grades this week represent a mediocre high school report card. The coaches as well receive a C because of the fact that they won the game, but made a few questionable calls during the game. The biggest sequence came with Penn State taking over with a 1st and five in the redzone and calling three straight runs when they had a chance to put the game away. James Franklin was called out in the post-game press conference and responded to media questioning his play calling harshly. It wasn’t the worst game for this Penn State staff, but it certainly wasn’t the best.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.