Penn State report card

Following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 22-10 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:


Quarterback C McSorley (19-25-160, one TD, no picks) did enough. Retuned after re-injuring knee, but mobility limited (netted 9 yards on 11 carries) and didn’t have elusiveness. Stevens had seven carries for 25 yards but no pass attempts. Not sure he’s trusted.

Running back B+ Sanders (23-159, 1 TD) averaged 6.9 and moved chains. Took pressure off pass game and defense. Journey Brown appeared first as backup and Ricky Slade (2-1) got first carries in a month.

Offensive line B Run game emerged, which was good sign. Bates moved to RT to shore up that spot, then Fries (at LT) almost got McSorley killed on second-quarter sack. McGovern and Gonzalez hit with holds. Miranda (73) appeared briefly at guard.

Wide receiver B Pretty productive day with 13 catches. Thompkins (5-31) ran nice route on TD to offset his one drop. Hamler added five catches, Dotson two, Sullivan-Brown one. Johnson apparently still injured and didn’t dress, Polk DNP.

Tight end B- Freiermuth (3-34) did a nice job on release across field for 14-yarder that set up Lions’ second TD. But he also had early drop over middle and false started, forcing a punt. No catches for Bowers.

Offensive coaching B Settled into more patient approach by committing to run and spread ball in passing game with seven different receivers making catches. Not liking overemphasis on QB runs up gut, and Stevens/Sanders gummed up late-game fumble.

Defensive line A Five sacks for D-line. Gross-Matos had two more TFLs, his fifth game with at least two. Also forced and recovered a fumble. Windsor had two sacks, nice story for Wisconsin product. Miller added two sacks and forced fumble.

Linebackers B Parsons (seven stops) led Lions in tackles and played almost entire second half, seemingly displacing Farmer. Brown and Johnson both added five tackles. Brooks (13) saw some snaps.

Secondary B Taylor appeared out of position on 71-yard TD (by Wisconsin’s Taylor). Badgers’ passing game was poor (60 total yards), but receivers weren’t open, either. Amani and Scott both made third picks of season, eighth of Amani’s career.

Defensive coaching A Regrouped nicely from game-opening score and allowed Badgers just 199 yards, 11 first downs and FG thereafter. Tightened up rotation, and it remained fresh. Defense was in control throughout and played its best game of the year.

Special teams B Trouble spot made some improvements. Fake punt was one of game’s biggest plays. Despite windy conditions, Pinegar hit three FGs, two from 40-plus, though he missed XP. Checa back for kickoff duties.

The other guy D Badgers entered season ranked in Top 5? Hard to believe they didn’t have a better backup QB after injury to Hornibrook. OL didn’t hold its own, false started three times and no urgency down two scores with five minutes left.

Officials B Picked up flag after bad call on Stevens hit OB. Overruled fumble on Sanders. Did take long time to determine a couple calls. Curious on re-spotting and measuring again in red zone. PSU needed this crew at UM.

Atmosphere B Considering noon start, I-99 accident, frigid wind, 105K not bad. Nice touch on the Wally Triplett tribute and history of “We Are” chant. Not sure any other Power-5 school would play “One Shining Moment” to NIT champs.

Overall B+ Lions beat Badgers at their own game, which isn’t easy. Based on coming off Michigan and McSorley’s iffy knee, strong bounce-back win to position season for 9-3 pre-bowl finish.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or He will respond to brief comments and questions in Gameday.