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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following A 51-6 Thumping Of Pitt

by on September 09, 2018 9:28 AM

Just going to go out on a limb and assume you didn't see this one coming. Or at least the score, Penn State's 51-6 throttling of Pitt as if James Franklin was trying to end the entire series all in one night. It was second half domination as Pitt looked more than happy to run the ball for eternity fooling Penn State with misdirection and pre-snap movement.

But in the end Penn State was too talented, too fast and simply better than Pitt in every way that counted. The Panthers had their moments and took their swings, but none of the punches landed hard enough or frequently enough to put the Nittany Lions on the ropes.

That being said it wasn't always pretty, which makes the final score all the more amazing. Here are the grades heading into Week three.

Offense: B

Penn State scored in every quarter, put the pedal down in the second half and for the most part looked the better team from the start. This grade is dropped for the little things like drops, a handful by DeAndre Thompkins and Juwan Johnson who both seem to still be finding their groove this year. Two fumbles by Ricky Slade as well didn't help the cause either.

Overall though it looked like a more familiar version of Penn State's offense. Trace McSorley didn't do a whole lot, but two touchdowns on 14 completions and a rushing touchdown made for a solid night. Penn State ran for 211 yards as a collective and Miles Sanders was the most efficient he has looked since coming to Penn State.

Penn State did go 4-of-11 on third down and gave up four sacks as well. It didn't mean much by the end of the night, but it was another minor detail that might hurt the cause a bit more against a better team.

Defense: A

Pitt had its moments, but it's hard to hold an opposing team to -2 yards in the third quarter and force a safety and not get some credit for great play. The tackling issues weren't as bad Saturday and while Pitt did have a few big plays, Penn State's defense stiffened when it had to and probably won't see a run-heavy attack like this again until Wisconsin late in the season.

The return of Kevin Givens at DT was a sight for sore eyes and Micah Parsons led the way with seven tackles in a much more active evening than he had a week ago. Tariq Castro-Fields was more than capable at corner with John Reid out of the mix and Amani Ourwariye is still the best thing going in the secondary for Penn State this year.

There are things for this group to figure out before it plays Ohio State, but it has done its job more often than not in the opening eight quarters of the season. If not for the fourth quarter against App State, this group would have few complaints when it comes to production on the scoreboard.

Sure, Pitt was dancing with getting close to 300 yards rushing, but most of it was in the first half and running the ball was about the only play in the Panthers' book. Credit again to Brent Pry for halftime adjustments.

Special Teams: B+

Thompkins had a short touchdown return, Jake Pinegar had a long field goal miss in sloppy conditions. Blake Gillikin had his best night of the season so far with five punts for a 42.6 yard average. Gillikin really was the best thing going for this group and if not for him Pitt may have had slightly more manageable field position in the second half.

Pinegar's miss wasn't good, but given the conditions it's hard to bring the grade down too far.

Return coverage was better and this unit did more good than bad.

Overall: A

I mean they scored 51 points and gave up six. There are little things that will need to be cleaned up, but a win like this is what it is.

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