Penn State report card

The following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 35-6 win over Rutgers on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:


Quarterback A McSorley continues to be highly efficient, going 16-21 for 214 and two scores. Extended his school record with TD pass in 25 straight games and 52 total (another record). Also ran for 44 yards on 13 tries and took a couple hard shots.

Running back C Barkley checked to season-low 35 yards on 14 carries and one catch. Not a lot he can do with no running room. Did a nice job on lateral that he took 21 yards, with hurdle, to the 1. Seems to be pass blocking well. Sanders (2-18) looked quick.

Offensive line D Unit cannot be this bad. Feeling persists that insistence on establishing run game without power set is doing line a disservice. Pass blocking remains solid as McSorley was sacked twice, once on corner fire that wasn’t picked up.

Wide receiver B Johnson (5-78) had his third-most productive outing, and Hamilton (3-40) helped break game open with 22-yard TD. Blacknall (2-14) saw more snaps but fell down on post. Polk (1-17) had first catch in three weeks. Thompkins blanked.

Tight end D Gesicki (4-45 including 16-yard TD) remains team leader in receptions. And while nobody expects him to be Irv Pankey or Vyto Kab, it’s obvious run-game struggles can be partially attributed to lack of TE blocking.

Offensive coaching C Couple new wrinkles. Stevens got a little time, Barkley took a direct snap, the lateral. But these struggles to get Barkley in open space make you wonder if JoeMo should scrap the run game and just spread the field, like they did last year.

Defensive line C Clear Lions don’t have dominator up front, though young guys are getting valuable time. Simmons had sack for second straight game. Altoona’s Givens missed early tackle but got lot of snaps at DT-DE. Gross-Matos had three stops.

Linebackers C Cabinda made 11 stops and Smith (10) did well in place of suspended Bowen. Trouble brewing on Bowen front? Including Rose Bowl, second time he’s been benched (team rules). Brown dropped pick and lined up offside.

Secondary B Tough to give an A grade against team that can’t throw (43 yards, two passing first downs). Slow start with Campbell and Scott missing tackles. Castro-Fields dropped pick for second straight week.

Defensive coaching B Got better as game went on, holding RU without a first down for 36 minutes (early second Q into fourth). Continued liberal subbing, especially in secondary. Liked that first unit wasn’t put back in game late and second unit did job.

Special teams C Very uneven performance. Gillikin is an NFL punter and unit forced a fumble (Wade caused). Those were high points. But Barkley didn’t field opening kickoff, Campbell was offside on onside kick attempt, and units allowed 94 return yards.

The other guy B Rutgers played within itself. Given lack of pass game, it had smart scheme by keeping clock going and ganging up on Barkley. TDs instead of FGs early would have helped, but you can see Chris Ash is making progress.

Officials A Didn’t overdue it as each team was flagged just four times. May have missed Barkley catch at sidelines (ruled he juggled). Along with Rutgers strategy, clock kept moving and ended in 2:51, 30-40 minutes faster than average game.

Atmosphere B+ Military appreciation theme on Veterans Day worked nicely and helped get crowd (at least sold tickets) to 107,531. Musical selections added to atmosphere. Chilly but picturesque day.

Overall C Took a while to get started as Ohio State-Michigan State cobwebs needed to be shaken out. Offensive line/scheme issues remain, but bottom line is 8-2 with attractive bowl destination likely. Could be worse, and, as we all know, it has been.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or