Game Grades: Penn State vs Rutgers

Story posted November 17, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Jake Starr

Penn State traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey and walked away with a 20-7 win over Rutgers. It was a very sloppy game for Penn State, but a win is a win. Let’s take a look back at that game and hand out game grades for each unit on Saturday.

Offense: C-

Going into this game, one of the big questions was when Tommy Stevens would get to come in at quarterback because Penn State was up by so much. That scenario never happened as this game was so close because Penn State’s offense could not get going.

It was a milestone day for Trace McSorley as he became the winningest quarterback in school history, but overall he was underwhelming on Saturday. McSorley went 17 of 37 for 183 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on the day.

Miles Sanders was okay in this game, running the ball 27 times for 88 yards. There just really is not a lot of positives to pull from this game offensively for Penn State. The Nittany Lions struggled to move the ball against a now 1-10 Rutgers team and both of Penn State’s touchdowns came off Rutgers turnovers.

Freshmen KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth both were bright spots in this game. Hamler had five catches for 71 yards and Freiermuth found the end zone twice on the day. With two games left in the season, Penn State’s offense is going to need to play better if the Nittany Lions wish to achieve their third straight double-digit win season.

Defense: A-

This should not have been the case, but the Penn State defense deserves a lot of credit for stifling the Rutgers offense and keeping Penn State in the game while its offense was not doing anything.

Penn State forced three Rutgers turnovers, allowing the Penn State offense to score two touchdowns off those turnovers. If those turnovers don’t happen, then there may have been an upset in Piscataway on Saturday afternoon.

Rutgers did run for 188 yards, but it came on 55 carries. The Scarlet Knights averaged 3.4 yards per carry, which is a good showing for Penn State’s defense and they did a good job of limiting any big plays on the ground from the Scarlet Knights.

Penn State’s defense did not allow Rutgers to do anything through the air on Saturday. Three Rutgers quarterbacks combined to go 5 for 16 for 46 yards and two interceptions. Penn State did catch a break when Giovanni Rescigno dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone off a “Philly Special” play.

Special Teams: A

Freshman kicker Jake Pinegar continued his upward trend, going two for two on extra points and two for two on field goals. Granted all the kicks were from 21 yards or less, it has still been nice to see the true freshman get better throughout the season.

Punter Blake Gillikin kicked some boomers today, but unfortunately, some of them carried into the end zone for touchbacks. He averaged 48.7 yards per punt with a long of 70 yards. Hamler didn’t really get many opportunities in the return game.

Coaching: C

It would definitely be fair to be critical of Penn State’s coaching for possibly not having the team ready for this game. That would be a fair assessment given how bad they looked on offense, in a game where Penn State should have blown out Rutgers.

Penn State’s offense was very flat once again and you really begin to wonder if they are missing Joe Moorhead as the offensive coordinator. The offense has not looked the same with Ricky Rahne at the helm. There is about a zero percent chance that James Franklin makes a change, but if this trend continues next year, then it is something that may have to be considered.



Jake Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email