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Nittany Lions Zip Past Akron 52-0 As You Saw What You Wanted And What You Needed

by on September 02, 2017 3:30 PM

You saw everything you wanted to.

Saquon Barkley played like a Heisman contender. His two touchdowns via 172 rushing yards on 14 carries looked easy. Trace McSorley played like he always has, a 280 yard two touchdown afternoon was a casual outing in the September rain. Mike Gesicki didn't lose a step, six catches, two touchdowns and 58 yards showcased why he might be the best tight end in the nation.

The offense looked the part, it was 52 points with ease and very little sweat. If Penn State was trying to prove 2016 wasn't a fluke there was little doubt an explosive blowout furthered that claim.

More importantly you saw everything you needed to.

If Penn State is going to defend its Big Ten title it will happen because it got better, not because it stayed the same. Making the playoffs will mean splitting hairs when it comes to the little things. It will mean that the little things matter even more. Because the details, that's what makes the difference between great and elite.

Which is why it was key to see Penn State's defensive line explode in the trenches. Why it was essential that the likes of Manny Bowen and Cam Brown combined for nine tackles while Tyrell Chavis led the team with three tackles for a loss. 

That's why Penn State's offensive line living up to its hype early in the season was crucial. McSorley and Barkley both had room to work with and both made the most of it. In turn the Nittany Lions went 2-of-3 on third down in the first half, and rarely faced third downs to begin with. 

It's why the afternoon of Amani Oruwariye, which included an acrobatic interception and equally impressive pass deflection was a big step forward for a coverage unit without John Reid. It's why Christian Campbell going step-for-step with his man on a deep ball was just as important. The Nittany Lions were never beaten deep and hardly ever threatened.

Penn State's punt return unit looked explosive for the first time in nearly a decade. DeAndre Thompkins' 61-yard touchdown return was the first for the Nittany Lions since 2008 and the lightning fast senior looked to nearly break a few more.

Tyler Davis' career long 47-yard field goal was not to be overlooked either as the usual reliable kicker missed his first, and has yet to be called on in long yardage situations for much of his time at Penn State. A bar has now been set for him.

Juwan Johnson and Thompkins put up 113 yards on six receptions, both in their debut as featured receivers, calming fears that Chris Godwin would be hard to replace.

There's no telling where Penn State's season will go, but as far as first impressions are concerned, you got everything you wanted and everything you needed.

Next up, Pitt.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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