Barkley’s Career Day, Quick-Strike Offense Highlight Purdue Rout
Saquon Barkley doesn’t like to admit it, but he conceded with a smile that you could call No. 24 Penn State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) a second-half team. After all, the Nittany Lions cruised to their most points since 2008 against Coastal Carolina (66-10) Saturday in West Lafayette.
“We don’t wanna be a second-half team at all,” Barkley said postgame. “I guess you could say we are, because that’s how we’ve been playing. We just really wanna come out and start faster, but like I said about this team, ‘We’re young, but we don’t panic.’ We know that at any moment we can get it going, but we’ve just gotta get it going earlier.”
While it’s certainly understandable to come out slow, especially at Ross-Ade Stadium in front of 33,157 fans, the Nittany Lions broke the 17-17 halftime stalemate with a 45-7 offensive clinic following the intermission. They would steamroll Gerad Parker’s Boilermakers 62-24 behind 511 yards of total offense in only 25:13 of possession.
“I wasn’t worried about the last game carrying over, I was worried about going from the White Out, which is as good of an environment in all of college football, and this was gonna be a little bit different than that,” Franklin said. “We didn’t play music at practice, did a lot of different things to make that our energy was coming from ourselves, and our love for the game, and our love for each other, and our love for Penn State.”
Franklin mentioned that he made sure each of his players had a juice box in-hand last night in the hotel, just in case. “We actually even gave them juice boxes, like my daughter drinks,” he said. “We tried everything. But I didn’t feel like that was an issue. I’ve been around teams where they’re jacked in pregame and then you don’t play that way. And I’ve seen the opposite.”
Barkley and the running backs did their part with 257 rushing yards to Purdue’s 46. “We really felt like we could all get in the end zone this week, and we all did — Mark, Miles, Andre, and myself. It’s amazing to see guys take advantage of their opportunities,” Barkley said. “It means a lot, especially for Coach Huff and all of us, because we work so hard, and those guys are very talented.”
Barkley finished with new career-high yardage marks in rushing (207) and total offense (277) against the Boilermakers, highlighted by a career-long untouched 81-yard scamper for his second touchdown of the afternoon, and another hurdle. Barkley shared that offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called his shot on the headset. “He told the o-line, ‘Blocking right and 2-6 is gonna take it for .” It was kinda funny after I scored the touchdown,” Barkley said. “Obviously, I believed in him, and we believed in the call, but the o-line did an amazing job with that play.” Left guard Ryan Bates in particular finished his block well downfield to spring Barkley free.
Having that dominant presence on the ground, thanks in large part to Matt Limegrover’s boys only giving up one sack, allowed the Nittany Lions to spread the ball around to the receivers as well. Junior Chris Godwin turned in a fantastic outing with five receptions for 58 yards and two scores. His first came on a wide-open 38-yard grab that looked too easy as the Middletown, Del., native strolled inside the left pylon. His second came just after the half in the opposite left corner from one yard out following Brandon Smith’s interception.
Penn State would nearly match its rushing output through the air with 254 passing yards on the day. Saeed Blacknall, Irvin Charles, Mike Gesicki, Miles Sanders (TD), and DaeSean Hamilton each hauled in a single catch from Trace McSorley, who finished with a new career-best three touchdown passes. The Nittany Lions only converted 2-of-9 third-down tries, but averaged 8.1 yards per their 63 offensive snaps and delivered 28 points off Purdue’s four turnovers (8-of-8 red zone).
Backup quarterback and Indianapolis native Tommy Stevens was able to get some extended action in the fourth quarter. The redshirt freshman led two scoring drives that culminated in some added cushion from Mark Allen and Andre Robinson to cap a tremendous afternoon.
James Franklin called for a second White Out against Iowa next Saturday at 7:30 p.m., so big things could be in store for this offense when it returns to Beaver Stadium.
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