Saquon Barkley Seizes The Spotlight With Electric Performance Against Buffalo
Penn State beat a MAC team by two scores at home to climb back to a .500 record. In an otherwise standard win, true freshman running back Saquon Barkley emerged as one of Penn State’s most fun players to watch.
Buffalo safety Ryan Williamson, meet the ground:
SAQUON. BARKLEY. https://t.co/WN6Oez1pQm
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 12, 2015
In the spring, James Franklin told the media that Barkley had a habit of hurdling people. No one expected the kid from the Lehigh Valley to show off that skill on one of his first opportunities — well, except his fellow backs.
“Yeah I saw that, once that hole opened up I knew he was gonna do it,” Akeel Lynch said after the game. “He’s talking about it all the time, he says, ‘If the safety comes up I’m gonna hurdle him.'”
Barkley became the first true freshman at Penn State to rush for 100 yards in a game since, ahem, Silas Redd against Northwestern in 2010. He and Brandon Polk became the first true freshmen to score in the same game for the Nittany Lions since 2005. When all was said and done, the backup running back had rushed 12 times for 115 yards and a score, with a long run of 33 yards and a 9.6 yard average. For any back at any level, those are great numbers.
“He showed those things in practice throughout camp, he showed those things this week, and now he’s showing it in the game,” Franklin praised. “I think his ability will continue to grow and I think the offensive line will continue to grow. When we have guys making plays like that, it’s amazing, just like a punt returner or kick returner, you got somebody back there that can make something happen, it makes people block better.”
When the team’s first depth chart came out a week before the Temple game, Barkley was listed behind Lynch, Nick Scott, and Mark Allen. Beyond Lynch, the ranking didn’t necessarily matter, but to list him last is still an odd decision — especially once you see what he’s capable of. Now that the secret’s out, Franklin, his staff, the fans, and everyone who cares about Penn State football know that he has the potential to be something really special.
“I think we’ve got some backs that we feel good about and that we can win with, but yeah we’re gonna need to continue to develop Saquon,” Franklin said. “I think his ability to make people miss and to break tackles… You guys watch him as a runner, he doesn’t run like a freshman. He’s making people miss and he’s also breaking tackles, and you usually don’t get that combination in a freshman. They’re usually either one or the other.”
An uneventful debut against Temple made this performance all the more perfect — except for one thing.
On Barkley’s hurdle, Lynch laughed after the game, “He should have scored.”