Game Grades: Idaho
The Penn State Nittany Lions started the 2019 campaign on Saturday afternoon against an inferior opponent in the Idaho Vandals and cruised their way to a comfortable 79-7 victory at Beaver Stadium. It was the highest Penn State scoring game since 1991 when the Nittany Lions walloped the Cincinnati Bearcats 81-0.
Here are the game grades from Saturday afternoon’s performance from the Nittany Lions:
Sean Clifford made his first start at quarterback for Penn State in this one and shined. Clifford was efficient with 280 yards on 14 completions and two touchdowns. The Penn State quarterback was relaxed in the pocket and made some big-time throws that he will need to continue to make as the season moves along when the competition gets tougher.
One of the more dominant aspects of the Penn State offense in this game was the ground attack. Penn State rushed for 331 yards and had five different running backs score at least one touchdown. It will be interesting to see if one particular running back will take more of the load, or head coach James Franklin will continue to substitute different guys.
Last season Penn State’s receivers struggled with separation and catching, but to start this year the Nittany Lions wideouts looked good. KJ Hamler led the way with four catches for 115 yards, and two touchdowns. Thirteen other Penn State skill positions players caught passes, so watch out for the Penn State air attack moving forward.
Many believed the defense was going to be the strong suit of this team, and in this game, they were in total control. Yetur Gross-Matos led the defensive line with 2.5 sacks on the day and was vital in setting the tone. Idaho only rushed for four yards because of the push of the defensive front of the Nittany Lions. Penn State had many blitz packages that Idaho couldn’t handle and it was the main reason why the pass rush was intense.
Penn State’s tackling was good, and the pursuit of the football was outstanding. It was an all-around team effort for the Nittany Lions on defense. Let’s see if they can keep the momentum going into next week.
Special Teams: B+
Let’s not forget about special teams now. Penn State had excellent field position all day and it put them in a ton of scoring situations. Also, kickers Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout were combined 3/3 on field goals, which included a 53-yard field goal from Stout. The miscues for Penn State on special teams were a partially blocked punt and a muffed punt.
Matthew McClure is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email email@example.com.