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Penn State’s Post-Kent State Report Card

No. 10 Penn State football improved to 3-0 on the season after dominating Kent State 63-10 in Beaver Stadium After barely making it past Appalachian State to start off the season, two straight blowouts have to make Penn State confident going into Friday’s game at Illinois. 

Now that it seems like Penn State’s got its groove back, how did everyone look on Saturday?

Backs & Receivers: A

Trace McSorley did Trace McSorley-type things once again and was responsible for five of Penn State’s nine touchdowns. He threw two deep touchdown passes to DeAndre Thompkins and Brandon Polk and tallied a hat trick of rushing scores.

McSorley did record his first turnover of the season late in the second quarter, but he made the tackle against the Kent State fumble retriever and the Golden Flashes’ ensuing drive only ended in a field goal.

Sean Clifford once again stepped in late in garbage time and built on his already-impressive Heisman résumé. The redshirt freshman messed around and threw the longest touchdown pass in program history to Daniel George, finishing the game 3-for-3 with 141 passing yards.

Miles Sanders had yet another strong game, rushing for 86 yards on 14 carries. He was kept out of the end zone again on Saturday, but he was still extremely effective when he did get his touches.

As far as running backs are concerned, Saturday was all about Sanders’ backups. Ricky Slade found the end zone despite totaling just one yard on the ground, Johnathan Thomas tallied 84 yards on just three carries, and Mark Allen scored another touchdown in a backup role.

Wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins finally tallied his first catch of the season in style, hauling in a 40-yard score on the Nittany Lions’ opening drive of the evening. Brandon Polk, KJ Hamler, and Daniel George all found the back of the end zone, but Juwan Johnson was held without a catch and was targeted twice on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Zack Kuntz also dipped their toes into the offensive pool Saturday, combining for three receptions and 67 yards.

Offensive Line: B+

Penn State’s offensive line only allowed one sack on Saturday, but it was certainly a doozy. Right tackle Will Fries got burned badly on a corner blitz by Kent State’s KJ Sherald, who smoked Trace McSorley and forced a fumble. The Nittany Lions managed to recover the fumble, but McSorley’s bell was certainly rung on the play.

Connor McGovern, Ryan Bates, and Steven Gonzalez were all rock-solid during the Nittany Lions’ 63-10 victory over Kent State.

Outside of that blemish, the Nittany Lions’ offensive line paved the way for more than 600 yards of total offense and 297 rushing yards in the game. Kent State only managed to record three tackles-for-loss during the game outside of its only sack of the afternoon.

Front Seven: A-

Penn State’s defensive front had its best game of the season on Saturday and was consistently able to apply pressure on Kent State’s quarterback. Sean Spencer’s Wild Dogs managed to sack Woody Barrett seven times and hit him on three other occasions.

Jayson Oweh and Shareef Miller led the way in terms of sacks with two each, and Ellison Jordan also recorded his first solo sack. Yetur Gross-Matos had a helping hand on a sack for the second consecutive game, and safety Lamont Wade even got involved with a solo sack of his own.

Yetur Gross-Matos continued to impress in the absence of Shane Simmons.

The Nittany Lions’ linebackers had another strong game, this time led by starter Cam Brown. The junior led the team with seven tackles, two of which were for a loss of yardage. Micah Parsons had another big game, finishing second to Brown with five tackles.

Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson had quieter afternoons, combining for just two tackles during the game.

Secondary: A-

Penn State only allowed 180 passing yards on Saturday afternoon thanks to an outstanding performance from its secondary.

This secondary’s only blemish was a deep touchdown pass allowed in the first quarter. They also weren’t able to nab any picks for the first time this season, but Kent State struggled in the air for most of the game as Penn State’s passing defense proved too much to handle. 

Nick Scott and Garrett Taylor had plenty of reason to celebrate on Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Sutherland impressed in a reserve role, finishing tied for second on the team with five tackles. Nick Scott and Garrett Taylor were solid as the starting safeties, as was Tariq Castro-Fields at cornerback. Scott and Taylor combined for seven tackles and a pass breakup while Castro-Fields made three solo stops of his own and broke up a pass.

Overall, this group’s tackling was much improved from the first two games of the season. Head coach James Franklin was critical of the unit for its use of shoulder-to-shoulder tackling, but they did much better in terms of wrapping up the ball carrier throughout the game.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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