Penn State report card

Following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 31-7 victory over Northwestern on Saturday at Ryan Field:


Quarterback B Tough to be overly critical of McSorley after 25-34-245 effort with TD and no picks. Held ball a little long at times. Missed a couple high, but it was windy. Took a beating on 16 runs and four sacks. Stevens (4-7-41) whet appetite.

Running back C+ Barkley looked good on his 53-yard TD jaunt but his other 15 carries produced just 22 net yards. Allen got two late carries and A.Robinson one.

Offensive line D- 61 lost yards in rushing, four sacks. This has to get better and fast. Right tackle injuries to Nelson (didn’t make trip) and Wright call for changes before meet of schedule.

Wide receiver B+ Plenty of action as top five WRs split 21 receptions. Thompkins (6-57) and Johnson (6-43) led way and Blacknall (4-74) had good catch and run. Polk added three. Charles still a no-show.

Tight end B Gesicki played through rib injury. Pancoast called upon for some blocking and backup QB Tommy Stevens caught TD pass out of TE/slot formation, a play that typically goes to Gesicki.

Offensive coaching B Wildcats were jumping Barkley whenever he flinched. JoeMo tried to be patient and took what defense gave, thus 41 pass attempts, often to open receivers. CJF hinted some unused plays being held for rainy day.

Defensive line A Northwestern checked to 68 yards on 30 carries and QB Thorson under siege all day, needing 36 attempts to get 142 yards. Toney, Miller, C.Cothran all with sacks. Givens active with two blocked passes.

Linebackers B+ Cabinda and Smith had five tackles each to share team lead. Farmer and Bowen added four each. One-time starter Jake Cooper got some late snaps.

Secondary A One of its best games as Amani came up with his third pick, second via spectacular catch. Haley broke up three and had a TFL. Allen added five stops, including a couple big hits. Unit didn’t allow NW to get deep.

Defensive coaching A You really have to start to wonder how long Franklin will be able to hang onto Brent Pry. Along with Moorhead, has to be considered prime candidate for offseason openings.

Special teams B As good as Gillikin is, that’s how concerning Davis’ woes have become. Seven misses/blocks this season after going 30-for-32 in 2015-16. Must be addressed. And Charles’ special teams penalties (two more) keep climbing.

The other guy F NW laid an egg, one of the most undisciplined performance by a Fitzgerald coached team vs. PSU ever with eight penalties and two ejections. Stunning, really. Looked like ‘Cats could have played 10 quarters and not scored two TDs.

Officials C Do these guys have to confer on everything? They reviewed a spot on a first down play that covered eight yards. Maybe they thought they were being paid on hourly breakdown. Looked like they missed an early interference on Haley.

Atmosphere D Uphill battle to get the attention of Evanston academics. No. 4 team in town, pretty nice day, no Ohio State and Michigan visits this year and crowd is 41K (capacity 47K). Then again, ‘Cats didn’t get them engaged, either.

Overall B+ Lions didn’t get challenge that surely awaits but part of that was suffocating defensive effort and enough timely offensive plays to gain comfortable win. Enjoy the open date.

Rudel can be reached at