Game Grades: Penn State vs. Rutgers
Christian Hackenberg appeared energetic throughout the entire game, which as the leader of the team is crucial to keep the rest of the team motivated. Hackenberg appears to be improving more and more each week and fixing mistakes made from previous weeks. Hackenberg still continues however to sit in the pocket for long periods of time waiting for the intended receiver to get open, displaying how he needs to improve on being able to scan for other options in order to keep the ball moving. As for this week’s performance however, completing a total of 10 for 19 displays that Hackenberg was making some great decisions when needed.
Running Backs: A+
True freshman Saquon Barkely showed he is unstoppable when the ball is in his hands, finding the openings and proving that he is a forced to be reckoned with, rushing for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Akeel Lynch was so slouch either, running for a total of 120 yards on 10 attempts. With a total of 330 rushing yards for the Nittany Lions, the running game proved to be both unstoppable and crucial in this Big Ten matchup.
Although this game was mostly a running game, the receivers still racked up 114 yards. The catches were being made when needed, as DaeSean Hamilton led the blue and white with five receptions for 86 yards. Chris Goodwin contributed with four receptions for a gain of 49 yards. The receivers displayed that when the passes were there, they would deliver.
Offensive Line: A-
Excellent blocks made by the O-line proved crucial for the team when it came to allowing the running game to take it’s course. Not allowing a sack on Hackenberg for the second straight game allowed Hackenberg time in the pocket and make passes when they were available. The offensive line was both competitive and explosive, as the offense finished with a total of 471 offensive yards. If the O-line continues to deliver like this, the Nittany Lions will only continue to improve in the weeks to come.
Defense proved strong against the Scarlet Knights as the unit totaled five sacks. Safeties Jordan Lucas and Marcus Allen combined for 20 tackles while Brandon Bell returned from missing last week’s game to record eight tackles. Grant Haley made his season debut and tallied and interception.
Special Teams: B+
A punter switch from Daniel Pasquariello to redshirt sophomore Chris Gulla was a key move for the team as all five of Gulla’s punts soared inside the 20. Special teams shut down Rutgers return man Janarion Grant, allowing him to gain virtually zero yardage. Joey Julius continued to boom kickoffs out of the end zone and made all four extra points. Although special teams appeared strong through these aspects, the tackling needs to improve in order to make special teams perfect.
Coaching seems to be improving when it comes to making the right calls at the right time. It was smart on the staff’s part to recognize that the running game was clicking against the Rutgers defense. However, they did make some questionable calls that made fans scratch their heads.
Ellie French is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org