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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following A 52-0 Win Over Akron

by on September 03, 2017 9:30 AM

The wait finally ended on Saturday as Penn State hit the field for the first time in defense of its Big Ten Title and historic 2016 season. Penn State's first game since the Rose Bowl would also mark a welcome home after a long season that ended on the road.

So how would the Nittany Lions respond? A 52-0 thrashing of Akron that left little in the way of things to be critical about. It was one of the most dominating season openers in almost a decade and a first good step towards telling the nation that 2016 was no fluke.

Offense: A+

Aside from Trace McSorley's interception on Penn State's first drive it's hard to find much to fault this unit. Saquon Barkley was sensational and a slew of receivers led by Juwan Johnson proved that Penn State will be just fine without Chris Godwin moving forward. There was hardly anything wrong with the afternoon performance aside from two DeaSean Hamilton drops and McSorley's low throw that was intercepted. 

Beyond that the offensive look dominant against an inferior foe and Akron had little in the way of things to slow down the Nittany Lions on offense. 

Defense: A+

If you wanted to see Penn State's new faces on defense make plays you got just that Saturday and more as the Nittany Lion defense smothered Akron. The defensive front in particular dominated the trenches and left Akron with little to no time to execute plays. Amani Oruwariye showed why he could be a reliable asset in the secondary with an athletic interception and even more impressive pass breakup after nearly slipping and falling as the ball came his way. 

The best news for Penn State was perhaps that Marcus Allen was hardly a part of the game, which means in turn not many, if any, plays made it far down the field. That will be key moving forward for Penn State, the more tackles within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage the better.

Jarvis Miller led the way with five tackles and one sack but the likes of Tyrell Chavis (3TFL), Manny Bowen, Cam Brown and Ryan Buchholz weren't far behind.

Special Teams: B+

Tyler Davis' miss and potential holding issue is the lone dark blotch on the game. Davis was also not overly impressive with his kickoffs in terms of height and depth of the kicks. Aside from that though Blake Gillikin boomed off a 56-yard punt after not punting during the first half and DeAndre Thompkins gave Penn State its first punt return touchdown since 2008 and looked close to breaking at least one more.

Overall: A+

Penn State won 52-0, that pretty much does all the talking. The Nittany Lions looked great with minimal things needing improvement moving forward. And for the first time what seems like ages, nobody picked up an injury in Week 1.

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