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Penn State’s Improved Running Game Wasted In Loss To Nebraska

Penn State football dropped its fourth-straight game 30-23 Saturday afternoon against Nebraska.

The Nittany Lions started out slow on both sides of the ball and dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of. However, a positive from the loss was the running game.

After combining for just 138 rushing yards the past two weeks, Penn State totaled 245 rushing yards against the Cornhuskers in what was an efficient day on the ground.

“I thought we got our running game going today,” James Franklin said after the game. “Not only traditional running game with the running back, but also with the quarterback.”

Penn State’s three running backs –Devyn Ford, Caziah Holmes, and Keyvone Lee — combined for 28 carries for 165 yards (5.89 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. The 165 combined yards is the most Nittany Lion running backs have had in a game all season.

Holmes and Lee each set a new career-high in rushing yards despite only having four and eight carries, respectively. Additionally, Lee scored his first career touchdown on a 31-yarder mid-way through the third quarter.

“I thought a bunch of those young guys, Keyvone Lee, Caziah Holmes, both did some good things,” Franklin said. “Devyn Ford did some good things and then obviously Will [Levis] was able to make some plays with his legs. We were more physical up front, we were more consistent up front.”

Will Levis contributed to Penn State’s effective running game after coming in. Levis wasn’t quite efficient on the ground (18 carries for 61 yards), but he made timely plays with his legs and fought for some gritty runs.

A change on the offensive line may have been the catalyst for Penn State’s improved running game Saturday afternoon. Will Fries moved from right tackle to right guard, and Caedan Wallace slid in at right tackle.

“I thought, again, our traditional running game — we were able to get that going today,” Franklin said. “We moved Will Fries to guard and had Caedan [Wallace] at tackle, and I thought that helped us. I thought that helped us, I think we can build on that.”

The newly-minted right guard Will Fries explained the thought process of the offensive line this week in regards to getting the running game going.

“I think it was our offensive line room’s mindset in that we have to move the ball this week,” Fries said. “We have to have better attention to detail when we’re running the ball. We took great pride in making that a part of our game and wanted to lead that way.”

Not only was the running game effective, but it was one of the few aspects of Penn State’s game that remained consistent throughout the game. Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense totaled 125 rushing yards in the first half and 120 yards on the ground in the second half.

With uncertainty at the quarterback position moving forward, Penn State will need to lean on its running game in the coming weeks.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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