Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades After Penn State's 34-7 Victory Over Navy
Two weeks removed from the drama of an emotional home opener and a crushing loss to Ohio, Penn State returned to Happy Valley a much improved team ready to face a triple-option Navy attack.
For the first time all season, everything clicked for the Nittany Lions, who had come so close to winning in both losses. A victory sent the faithful home happy for the first time in a very long time, the clouds of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal only just beginning to depart.
Here are the grades following Penn State's 34-7 victory Saturday afternoon.
Offense B+: After struggling to score in both of the previous games, Penn State finally broke down the wall across the endzone with four passing touchdowns from Matt McGloin. With Bill Belton and Derek Day both out with injury, the running game was only able to just break the 100-yard mark.
It is doubtful that the combo of Curtis Dukes and Michael Zordich have the firepower to put up those numbers or better in conference play but that being said, they both were effective against Navy.
Allen Robinson continued to make a name for himself with three touchdowns on five catches and 136 yards. The Big Ten's leading receiver by almost 90 yards will have a larger and larger target on his back moving forward, and how Penn State can respond will be essential to it's success. As expected, the Navy rushing attack kept Penn State's time of possession to only 23 minutes, but the Nittany Lions were able to capitalize and did not turn the ball over.
Matt McGloin's 231 yards passing gives him 9 career 200-plus yard performances.
Defense A: After a second half against Ohio raised some eyebrows, Ted Roof's unit has responded forcing 8 turnovers in the past two games. Penn State held Navy to 391 yards of offense and only allowed the Midshipmen to convert 4-of-15 third downs. It remains to be seen how Penn State will fair against tougher opponents, but there is little doubt the defense is moving in the right direction.
Special Teams C: Sam Ficken was only called on for extra point duty as Penn State avoided the field goal situation all together Saturday. Ficken missed one extra point, but from the standpoint of pure improvement, Ficken was in fact better than his last showing. Alex Butterworth averaged 35 yards over his three punts, which will need to improve in conference play. In the end special teams didn't cost Penn State the game this time, but Bill O'Brien is losing sleep over another pressure packed field goal situation.
MVP: Allen Robinson gets the nod for the third straight week. Michael Mauti's 12 tackles and a sack helped him earn the award on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Zettel, a redshirt freshman, posted a career-high six tackles and two sacks on the day which is worth a mention as well, even though much of his production came when the game was well in hand.
Final Word: Penn State played a full 60 minutes and it showed. Navy's offense doesn't give you a lot of tape to save as a coach, but there were a lot of positives to take away from the game. If Bill O'Brien is able to build on a victory, Penn State might be able to turn the season around in time for conference play.