Following is Neil Rudel's report card from Penn State's 34-13 win over Northwestern Saturday at Ryan Field:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback A Despite wind, Clark was accurate, and his 274 yardage total could have been 350 were it not for two Zug drops in the first half. Clark has not thrown a pick in last four Big Ten games. Newsome handled final series.
Running backs C+ Lions miss Green's home-run threat. He traveled but didn't dress. Royster got career-long 69-yard TD, but missed a couple of lanes and fumbled on reverse. Beachum welcome at goal line.
Offensive line B- Protected Clark well as he was sacked just once. Got better as the game went on, but Northwestern blew up two early short-yardage plays. McCormack replaced Poti, who had a shoe problem.
Receivers B Zug picked the right time for an off game as his normally sure hands deserted him. Moye (6-123) continues to stretch field with his third 100-plus effort. True frosh Brown (1-27) and Drake (1-13) contributed.
Tight end C+ Lions used double-TE set in some running situations with mixed success. Position had three catches, including a 17-yarder to Quarless that helped overcome a holding penalty.
Offensive coaching A It's obvious Jay Paterno has been able to convince his dad to become more aggressive offensively, even when Nits are pinned deep. Clark was great on 93-yard drive that tied game 10-10. Like the flanker screens, too.
Defensive line B Seemed to overrun a few plays early, particularly Crawford, who was totally faked out on Kafka's 7-yard touchdown run. Odrick had sack and blocked field goal. Latham forced late fumble.
Linebacker B+ Great to see Lee flying to the ball. Best he's looked all season. Bowman got nine tackles but didn't seem to be on top of his game. Hull held to a season-low tackles with three.
Secondary B Kafka beat Astorino to the corner a couple of times for first downs. Lynn had career-high eight stops, and Sukay broke up a pair of passes at safety.
Defensive coaching B- Who knows how this game winds up if Kafka doesn't get hurt? Lions gave a lot of cushion and were vulnerable to QB draws. Credit halftime adjustments that shifted to more man coverage.
Special teams C Coverage took step back, allowing 44-yard kickoff return and 22-yard punt return. Powell did bust a 36-yarder and Hayes had another 20-yard return. Beachum 12th man on punt return team that sustained NW possession.
The other guy B Game effort by Wildcats, who offered up the best offense PSU saw this year. Amazing they can be competitive given lack of facilities and fan interest. Will be curious whether Fitzgerald uses job as springboard.
Officials C Thought the late hit on frosh Morris was cheap. Officials seemed to get call right, after replay, that Shuler was tackled, but then messed up the spot that they fixed after PSU bench exploded.
Atmosphere F No Michigan or Ohio State on schedule and yet Penn State \ draws just 30,000 and change - a significant number of which wore blue and white. Then again, the media were fed doughnuts before the game.
Overall grade C+ Nits get low mark for first half and high for second. After watching success of Michigan and Northwestern, wonder if Ohio State will try some no huddle against the Lions.
Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com. He will respond to brief comments in Gameday.