Penn State report card
Following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 34-27 victory over Indiana on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback B Not so much with his passing (11-23-179) but Clifford was good on third downs with his runs (10-55, two TDs) and particularly on the 9-minute drive. Backup Levis didn’t throw but showed poise with QB runs.
Running back B Brown solid (21-100, including 35-yard TD). Added two catches for 20. Like what we’ve seen from Ford (8-38) and while Slade has slipped on depth chart, he did add 18-yard reception for a first down. Cain still injured.
Offensive line B+ Took control of game in fourth quarter and escorted ground game (45-220). Menet emerging as excellent center/leader. Unit allowed three sacks, including blindside (Walker) hit on Clifford.
Wide receiver C Asking too much of Hamler, injured on kickoff return, finally caught up to Lions. Was too predictable. Unit checked to five catches, two for Hamler before injury, two for Dotson and Hippenhammer surfaced for 15-yard reception.
Tight end B+ Freiermuth (2-32) didn’t have big numbers and fumbled (he recovered), but Nick Bowers (1-12, TD) contributing as second option. Both were factors in late ball-control offense that iced win.
Offensive coaching B+ Good game for Rahne. Only demerit was burning timeout in first half with play clock at zero. Good use of Levis, commitment to run, adjustment to no KJ. Combined 9-16 on third-fourth down.
Defensive line D Gross-Matos and Toney each had sack but that was it in 41 dropbacks. Holes in run defense. Unit misses Kevin Givens, who occupied blockers and freed mates. D-ends (YGM, Toney, Oweh, Simmons) have been quiet.
Linebackers B Parsons around ball (7 stops, forced fumble, hurry, breakup that could have been pick). Brown and Johnson both had six tackles. Solid depth with Luketa, Brooks and hitter Smith.
Secondary D Too many receivers running free. Fields had team-high eight tackles. Reid missed pick-6. Blown coverage as Wade, Brisker blitzed on IU’s first TD. Frosh Wilson (8) looks good; he forced and recovered fumble.
Defensive coaching D Lions have not been ready to play the last two weeks, plain and simple. Secondary being exposed, lack of pass rush troubling, no picks. Add in the miscommunication in coverage and not Pry’s best work.
Special teams B+ Clutch 47-yard FG for Pinegar, who was 2-2 on day. Coverage remains outstanding. Dotson stepped in for injured Hamler. No penalties, breaking a trend. Johnson recovered early muff.
The other guy B Competitive effort from Hoosiers, still having a good year at 7-3. Special teams breakdowns (muffed punt, botched fake punt), hurt along with dropped TD in end zone. Averaged 6.2 yards per play and outgained Nits 462-371.
Officials D Impeachment hearings moving faster than this crew. Needed review to call Freiermuth fumble. Intentional grounding odd. Back judge threw flag 25 yards, then picked it up. Thought IU play at pylon was incomplete. IU punt flub inconclusive.
Atmosphere B Not bad for noon start after loss. PSU has mastered Military Appreciation Day, musical selections to boot. Play clock issues made fans antsy, but their booing in fourth quarter (when letting clock move was appropriate) was misguided.
Overall C+ Offense’s late TD drive, minus, rescued the defense. That type of ball control will be needed for the Lions to have any chance in Columbus.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.