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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following A 33-14 Win Over Pitt

by on September 10, 2017 12:15 AM

Strictly speaking it wasn't always pretty, but it stood to reason that Penn State's 50+ point Week one blowout wasn't going to be the standard for the rest of the season. So as the Nittany Lions left the field with a 33-14 victory over Pitt on Saturday it was hardly a bad win on the books.

There was good and bad, but at the end of the day Penn State improves to 2-0 on the year with more good than bad to show for it so far in 2017. Here are the grades as the Nittany Lions look ahead to Georgia State and a 7:30 kick next weekend.

Offense: B

33 points, or rather 31 offensive points is hard to argue with, but to a certain extent Penn State managed it by sheer volume of talent rather than a high level of execution. Gesicki and Barkley looked per usual while McSorley was a bit shaky at times. This grade is lower more because everyone has seen this offense click at a much higher level. McSorley's 15-28 passing is a bit better than it looks with a handful of throw-aways, but overall he has had better games and he missed a few throws he normally makes. The offensive line also gave up its first sack of the year, which was certainly bound to happen and finally did.

Penn State has played far worse over the past five years on offense than it did Saturday so it's hard to knock it down any farther than this. 

Also after a good debut last week Juwan Johnson only had one catch, and while gaining yards is gaining yards, Barkley and Gesicki were Penn State's two leading receivers in both yards and catches. Not a bad thing, but a legitimate target at receiver will go a long way in Big Ten play.

Barkley ended the day with 183 all-purpose yards despite lacking any real flashy moments aside from an untouched 46-yard reception.

Defense: A

At the end of the day 14 points is more than enough to win most every game, especially with this offense. That being said this group was on the field for a really long time and Pitt wasn't short on long drives to show for it. To a certain extent the Panthers were running short yardage plays that are hard to stop from gaining yards, but 38 minutes on the field is a tough ask down the road. Chances are teams won't sit on the ball as much as Pitt did in the future, but a few more three-and-outs will go a long way for this bunch.

All told though two interceptions a fumble recovery, nine tackles for a loss and five sacks is a fine afternoon for this bunch. Marcus Allen led the way with 12 tackles while Koa Farmer and Jason Cabinda both chipped in eight each. Nick Scott was solid as well with seven tackles to his name and a big hit in the redzone. 

Special Teams: A-

Coverage was great and Thompkins looked close to breaking another big return all day. The only knock on this grade is Tyler Davis kicking one out of bounds and not really looking all that strong with his kickoffs. In the end, Penn State limited Quadree Henderson from doing any damage in the return game and that was the unit's biggest objective. 

After a fairly slow week to open the season Blake Gillikin was back to his usual self with six punts averaging 43.2 yards including a beauty downed inside the five.

Overall this may have been Penn State's best and most consistent unit on Saturday, and when things aren't going as good as they can in other areas, solid special teams can make up for a lot of mistakes.

Overall: B

This team can do better, but fans have seen a lot worse. Overall it's hard to argue with a 33 point outing and solid defense to go with it.

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