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Penn State’s Post-Maryland Report Card

No. 14 Penn State football wrapped up its regular season campaign with an emphatic 38-3 victory over Maryland at Beaver Stadium.

The senior class was sent off in style after a dominant performance at Beaver Stadium helped the Nittany Lions finish with a 9-3 record. Here’s how some of Penn State’s most important pieces performed in the regular season finale.

Quarterback: A

Trace McSorley’s curtain call in Happy Valley ended with him completing 12 of his 22 pass attempts for 230 yards and a score to Pat Freiermuth along with an interception. He was also effective on the ground, rushing for 64 yards and two scores while looking like his usual dominant self.

The Ashburn, VA native’s performances against Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rutgers left a lot to be desired, but he looked like an all-time great on Saturday. He ran and threw for a touchdown in the same game for the 21st time in his career — Maryland had no answer for his dual-threat abilities.

Tommy Stevens finished the game 2-for-2 with 25 passing yards, but the night truly belonged to one of the best to ever do it for Penn State.

Backs & Receivers: A-

Miles Sanders passed the 100-yard mark on the ground for the fifth time this year with 14 carries for 128 yards. Sanders capped off an excellent first season as Penn State’s featured running back, finishing with 1,223 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Sanders’ 128-yard performance was almost lost in the shuffle of Ricky Slade’s breakout performance for the Nittany Lions. Oddly enough, he finished the game with the exact same rushing stat-line as Trace McSorley: 11 carries, 64 yards, and two touchdowns. The freshman wrapped up the regular season with 230 yards on the ground and six scores, and his performance even has Penn State legend Larry Johnson worried about his program records.

Ricky Slade’s apparently been taking notes on how to celebrate like KJ Hamler.

Penn State’s receivers had a good day, especially considering the horrible weather conditions in Happy Valley for the game. KJ Hamler led the charge with 90 yards on three receptions to wrap up his redshirt freshman year with a team-leading 714 receiving yards. Juwan Johnson returned to the lineup with two catches for 46 yards after a brief injury layoff.

DeAndre Thompkins caught three passes for 36 yards in his Beaver Stadium swan song, while Jahan Dotson stayed involved with a 22-yard reception. Pat Freiermuth caught his team-leading seventh touchdown of the regular season on a play that went down as McSorley’s final pass attempt at Beaver Stadium.

Offensive Line: A

Penn State controlled the trenches on both sides of the ball Saturday, especially because of a strong performance from the offensive line.

Michal Menet did not play, so Connor McGovern slid over to the center position. Redshirt freshman Mike Miranda slotted in at right guard for his first collegiate start.

The Nittany Lions’ offense finished the game with 565 total yards, 310 of which came on the ground. Outside of a Ryan Bates false start in the second quarter, the group was disciplined and didn’t make any unforced errors throughout the game.

Maryland’s defense finished the game with just one sack and two tackles-for-loss thanks to an all-around phenomenal day for the offensive line.

Front Seven: A-

Yetur Gross-Matos wasn’t pegged as a starting defensive end at the beginning of the year, but he ends the campaign as arguably the most valuable asset Sean Spencer has to work with.

Gross-Matos was held without a sack, but made 3.5 tackles-for-loss against the Terrapins to cap off a tremendous season. He racked up a team-leading eight sacks and 20 tackles-for-loss this year and could be one of the best returning defensive linemen in the Big Ten next season.

Yetur Gross-Matos could attract the attention of NFL scouts if he continues to be a force next season.

Defensive tackles Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor capped off their regular seasons with a combined three sacks — it wasn’t always pretty, but the duo helped make Penn State’s defensive line a force to be reckoned with throughout this regular season.

At linebacker, Micah Parsons’ four-tackle effort helped him wrap up the season as the Nittany Lions’ leading tackler despite making just one start. His 69 tackles are three more than second-placed Jan Johnson, who made two stops against Maryland.

Cam Brown had a solid game with 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack, but Koa Farmer’s final game at Beaver Stadium was a bit quieter with just two tackles.

Secondary: B+

Penn State’s secondary gets the lowest grade for Saturday’s game, but the group wasn’t necessarily bad.

Nick Scott and Amani Oruwariye finished their Beaver Stadium careers with solid, business-like performances, while Garrett Taylor finished tied for the team lead in tackles with five. John Reid started alongside Oruwariye at cornerback, while Tariq Castro-Fields and Jonathan Sutherland each made at least three tackles in the rotation.

Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome finished the game 14-for-23 with 185 yards through the air, but the Terps’ offense was consistently shut down. Penn State’s secondary didn’t have the busiest day, but it helped stifle a Maryland offense that put up 51 points on Ohio State just a week earlier.

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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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