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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following A 45-14 Win Over Indiana

by on October 01, 2017 12:22 AM

Grading Penn State has been a bit of a challenge so far this season. The Nittany Lions are getting the job done, a 5-0 record speaks for itself and aside from wins against Pitt and Iowa, the points are coming in bunches.

Nothing sums up the weird grading issues like Penn State's 45-14 win over Indiana on Saturday. The Nittany Lions were the better team, racking up yards and points in all phases. But Penn State also went through long stretches of bland, uninspiring offense. In the end the score is all that matters, and 45 points is hardly a bad afternoon, but looks can be deceiving.

Offense: B-

We've reached an odd place when it comes to criticism that Trace McSorley can throw for over 300 yards and complete more than half his passes and give off the air that he isn't as sharp as he used to be. McSorley finished the day 23-of-36 for 315 yards and went 11-of-16 in the second half for 184 yards alone. 

The issue really isn't with the passing game as much as it is consistency and Penn State's inability to run the ball. 39 total yards on the ground was hardly inspiring and while Saquon Barkley had plenty of flash per usual, his 2.8 average is hardly turning heads.

DaeSean Hamilton was outstanding with nine catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns and Juwan Johnson continues to be one of Penn State's most reliable targets.

It's unreasonable to assume this group is going to score every time it takes the field, but it just seems like three-and-outs aren't the alternative it should be settling for. This grade is lower because this offense has played better and because the offensive line will have to play better moving forward.

Defense: A

Heading into the season it appeared that this group was going to be the weak point in any National Title dreams, now it looks like the Nittany Lions have something to lean on when the going gets tough on offense. Jason Cabinda was outstanding with 14 tackles and a sack, Marcus Allen was all over the field and Amani Oruwariye waited no time to make an impact with an interception after missing two games.

An Indiana team that can throw as well as any in the Big Ten was held to just 175 yards through the air and 177 on the ground over the span of 47 carries. Indiana is built to wear teams down with a high-tempo offense and the Nittany Lions never looked tired. Even Simmie Cobbs Jr had a fairly quiet afternoon catching one touchdown but hi five receptions for 44 yards were unremarkable by his standards.

This group has been fantastic for two straight weeks and as long as it stays that way Penn State can get away with lulls on offense. Four turnovers only help their cause.

Special Teams: C

Saquon Barkley's 98-yard touchdown return and Nick Scott's fumble recovery and score on a punt were the high points alongside Blake Gillikin's 46.5 yard average punt. That being said Penn State is going to lose a game or maybe more if the field goal unit can't figure things out. Tyler Davis appears to be fine, making a 45-yarder, but be it misses by him or snap and/or hold issues, something is really wrong with this bunch. Overall this group is leaps and bounds better than it was years ago, but not being able to kick field goals is going to kill the season's hopes and dreams sooner rather than later.

Like Franklin said after the game, it's unacceptable.

Irv Charles was fantastic coverage and Yetur Gross-Matos continues to play his way onto the field with a big two-man block to spring Saquon Barkley at the start of the game.

This grade is higher in every area, but on principle alone the field goal issues drag it down.

Overall: B

Another day another tough to beat effort coupled with a lot of things the Nittany Lions will have to fix. 45 points from all over the place coupled with a good defensive outing is hard to fault, but as the No.4 team in the nation splitting hairs comes with the territory.

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