Five Things We Learned: Ohio State
Penn State recovered from a 21-0 deficit by capitalizing on two Ohio State fumbles to make for a competitive game, but explosiveness and talent won out as the Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten East with a 28-17 win at the Horseshoe. Here are five things we learned from the game.
Journey Brown is a key to the offense
While a multitude of backs have made plays for the Penn State offense in 2019, the experienced and talented Journey Brown has emerged as the clear leader of the Nittany Lions’ backfield in recent weeks. Dating back to at least the Minnesota game, Brown has shown better instincts and decision-making while carrying the football, and has been reliable for big plays on the ground. It also helps that Noah Cain has been nursing an injury after exploding onto the scene against Iowa, but Brown’s effectiveness has earned him the lion’s share of carries in Ricky Rahne’s system.
Chase Young has a real chance at the Heisman Trophy
There will still be a lot of doubters, but it can’t be denied that Chase Young is one of the best players in college football. Quarterbacks and other offensive skill players usually get the attention from the voters, but Young has a good shot at the Heisman. With three sacks against Penn State is his return from suspension, Young showed that he can impact a game as much as Heisman favorites like LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and fellow Buckeye Justin Fields. Despite missing games against Maryland and Rutgers, Young still became the single-season sack leader in Ohio State history with 16.5.
LaMont Wade has found his true calling
Lamont Wade was, for much of his career, a mystery: a highly recruited player who came into the program with an ‘athlete’ designation, and, from the jump, was searching for a position and role at the college level. Against Ohio State, Wade showed how he can leave his mark on the game. Wade was probably Penn State’s MVP in the losing effort, recording 10 total tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and three forced fumbles. His ability to make disruptive plays was the number one reason that the Nittany Lions were able to climb out of a 21-0 deficit. Wade recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Micah Parsons and forced Justin Fields to cough up another one seconds later. The junior safety has plenty to be positive about despite a tough loss on the road.
Will Levis isn’t quite ready to lead the offense
With Sean Clifford being battered in the first half and being forced to leave in the third quarter after landing on his throwing shoulder, redshirt freshman quarterback Will Levis was forced into the game to try to save a sputtering Penn State offense. Levis initially provided a spark, making plays with his legs and commanding an improved rush attack on the back of Journey Brown, who scored an 18-yard touchdown run to cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive. The problem was that Levis was not able to effectively throw the ball against a strong Ohio State secondary, limiting what the Nittany Lions were able to do on offense. The glaring mistake that Levis made was forcing the ball over the middle to a smothered Pat Freiermuth, causing an interception by an Ohio State defender in traffic. KJ Hamler was open on the play, but Levis stared down his tight end, and the mistake killed the Nittany Lions’ momentum entirely.
Yetur Gross-Matos is a true first-round NFL draft prospect
This may not be news to those who have been following Gross-Matos’ career closely, but in a huge game against one of the best teams in the nation, the star defensive end stepped up when his team needed it. Gross-Matos had nine tackles, two sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss. This long, rangy, explosive pass rusher gets to the passer quickly but is also strong enough to occupy blockers in the run game. He is going to make the team that selects him in the middle of the first round of the 2020 NFL draft very happy.
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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