The National: Five Penn State Stats Compared To The Rest Of The Nation
September 10, 2018 2:00 PM
by Ben Jones
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Back for another week the data set is slowly gathering momentum as the season rolls along. It will still be a few more weeks until trends really matter as the quality of opponents only improves the rest of the way. Nevertheless progress is progress, especially for this Penn State team as it continues to find itself.

The stats we're tracking against the rest of the nation might change as the year goes along, but for now we'll stick to the ones we looked at last week. Some good and some bad, but all keys to the Nittany Lions' success or failure in 2018.

Offensive yards: Last week 64th, this week 77th

To be perfectly honest the number of yards you gain doesn't really matter if you don't do anything with them. Case in point was Saturday night when Penn State did do anything impressive in the box score but still managed to put up 51 points. The reverse, Christian Hackenberg throwing for over 400 yards against UCF in Ireland and Penn State still needing a field goal to win.

Penn State is averaging 412 yards a game right now, and over 40 points. So who cares what that's ranked. Even so, it's not a bad measurement of a team's ability to move the ball.

Penalty yards: Last week tied best, this week sixth best

Penn State has had six penalties called against it this season, only bettered by four other teams. In terms of yardage 55 yards of penalties is where the Nittany Lions' land at sixth best in the nation. Penn State generally has been a pretty well disciplined team under Franklin and this season has been no exception in the early going. Of course a block in the back call and suspect personal foul both proved to be big moments on Saturday even if they didn't impact the game. Even so, timing of penalties is always important, even if there aren't many of them in the first place.

Scoring defense: 103 last week, 60th this week

It comes as no big surprise to anyone with any semblance of math skills to know giving up six points in a game is going to help your scoring defense average. Penn State will be working down that average after Week 1's shootout, but expect to see the Nittany Lions find their way back into the elite status sooner rather than later. This defense still has some question marks, but there aren't many teams in the Big Ten that are going to post 40 on you if you let them.

Tackles for loss allowed: Second best last week, 61st this week

After giving up two tackles for a loss last week and knowing Penn State was going to run the ball against Pitt, it's maybe not a shock this number went up. The Panthers caught Penn State in the backfield nine times including sacks which brings the total to 11 TFLs allowed so far this season.

The 61st looks bad, but if you consider 16th in the nation is just seven tackles for a loss, it's not really a staggering change. If you figure Kent State doesn't get into the backfield as much this weekend, expect this number to head in the right direction again. That being said 42 yards loss behind the line of scrimmages 74th worst in the nation. So if you're going to lose yards, try not to lose lots of them. Look at me, a coaching genius.

Passing yards: 58th best last week, 86th best this week

With Penn State leaning a bit more on the ground game so far this year and a fair share of drops from receivers, this isn't much of a shock. How many yards Penn State passes for is another ones of those glamour stats, but if you're on the Trace McSorley Heisman bus you want to see this number go up. So far McSorley is having his slowest statistical start of his career, but that being said, you can't deny his importance in each of the two wins this season. So per usual, stats only tell part of the story.

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