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Penn State report card

Following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 28-7 win over Michigan State on Saturday at Spartan Stadium:

POSITION GRADE COMMENT

Quarterback B Clifford went 18-32 for 189 yards, four touchdowns and one bad interception (which CJF criticized). Still, outstanding first year as starter continues. Had at least four drops as wet ball was factor. Seemed a little slow to take running lanes.

Running back C Cain (6-21) started but was injured in the first half and didn’t return. Was actually helped from field but not deemed serious. Brown (12-45) quick to edge and Ford (6-25) had longest run of 16 yards. Slade (4-12).

Offensive line C+ Protected Clifford well as he was sacked just twice, but didn’t create much running room as Nits managed 3.1 on 37 attempts. Limegrover continued Thorpe-Miranda rotation.

Wide receiver C- Hamler 5-57, including 27-yard TD, but had rough game, dropping two, including deep shot. Chisena got open deep and dropped TD. Dotson 2-14 but dropped one and flagged for hold. Shorter/George one each.

Tight end A+ We’re seeing greatness with Freiermuth (five for 60 with three TDs). His TD total of 15 ties career mark with Gesicki for most by TE – midway thru soph yr. Bowers 2-44, including 38-yarder.

Offensive coaching B Liked going for fourth-and-1 at midfield with 14-0 lead, which turned into TD before halftime. Has coached Clifford well with run-pass options and last-minute dumpoffs. Another third-quarter malaise.

Defensive line B Oweh didn’t look good vs. Michigan, but was solid Saturday with two sacks and two forced fumbles. Toney had four stops, Gross-Matos three with two hurries. Mustipher had three tackles. Depth galore at position. Shelton ejected.

Linebackers A Enjoy Parsons. He’s now played more games (21) than he’s got left (maybe 17-18). He led with 12 stops and pass breakup (that he could have picked). Johnson and Brown had six stops. Luketa, Brooks strong backups.

Secondary B Kept most of game in front of it. Wade continues good season with six stops (1.5 for loss), and two breakups. Didn’t need his taunting foul. Frosh Wilson had five stops, pick. Reid hurt shoulder and didn’t return. Unsportsmanlike on Brisker.

Defensive coaching A PSU has allowed zero TDs vs. Big Ten in first quarter and two first-half TDs. Pretty impressive. Between depth and aggressive style, Pry & Co. can’t be coaching much better. They did get caught with only 10 on the field for one play.

Special teams D Thank goodness for Gillikin, one of team MVP candidates. Averaged 44.2 on eight punts. That said, Pinegar missed XP, Stout booted one OB, Hamler fumbled KO, and punt return for TD nixed penalty (now 11 special teams flags in five games).

The other guy F Spartans have turned into a train wreck. With a week off after 38-0 blanking to Wisconsin, managed one TD. Senior QB Lewerke was under pressure but has regressed. Defense was pushed around. Dantonio likely on 2020 hot seat.

Officials B Initially called targeting on Johnson but made right call to reverse. Glad crew didn’t tolerate taunting and just as glad Franklin publicly blasted Nits afterward, saying unsportsmanslikes (three) “were not who we are or will be.”

Atmosphere D Bring your rain gear in 2021 as it’s always gray in East Lansing. Not Sparty’s fault. Driving rain and MSU’s poor play drove alleged crowd of 70K out by halftime with stadium looking like Rutgers by game’s end.

Overall B Since joining Big Ten, Lions now 6-6 in East Lansing, but only 2009 (42-14) and this year have been relatively easy. Penalties (9-104) biggest negative. Defense, punting consistent strengths and offense doing enough. Enjoy the second bye week.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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