Placekicking A Question Mark Following Jake Pinegar’s Poor Ohio Performance

It’s hard to nitpick Penn State football’s performance after it basically did all the right things in its home opener against Ohio.

But, one negative did stand out — and it’s the Nittany Lions’ placekicker spot. Jake Pinegar didn’t attempt a field goal in the season opener against Purdue, leaving his role as a bit of a question mark heading into Ohio. He proved against the Bobcats that he still isn’t completely reliable.

The redshirt senior went 1-for-2 on field goals for the day and doinked an extra point as well. His miss — from 42 yards — was reminiscent of when Penn State would differ longer kicks to Jordan Stout in 2020.

Despite Pinegar’s struggles, James Franklin was quick to put confidence in his kicker after the game.

“He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. Part of it is because we’ve been going for it a bunch on fourth down and have been successful,” Franklin said. “I’ve got a ton of confidence in Jake.”

Franklin is right. The Nittany Lions are 3-for-5 so far this year in fourth down efficiency, which has snuffed out a handful of field goal opportunities. It seems like you can count on Penn State going for it when it’s between the opponent’s 40-yard line and midfield.

But, despite what Franklin says, it’s completely possible Penn State is opting to go for it so often because of its lack of confidence in Pinegar from long range. In the past, he was barred from kicking anything more than 42 yards. His career high is 49 yards.

Franklin also offered an alternate explanation for his miss against Ohio, which should put more confidence in Pinegar himself.

“We’re getting way too much push inside at our guard position,” the head coach said. “And once you put that on tape, it’s there. People are going to attack it.”

The next group of “people” Penn State has to face off with is Auburn next Saturday. Last year’s matchup with the Tigers was a close one, so don’t be shocked if we get a barn-burner in 2022 as well. A field goal or extra point is yet to decide a game for the Nittany Lions, but it very well could in the future.

Pinegar’s missed extra point Saturday could have certainly been an outlier, especially given that he was perfect in week one. But, add it on to his other miss and it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for those outside the program.

We conjectured before the season that Sander Sahaydak might get a shot at longer field goals due to his stronger leg. So far, he’s only handled some kick-off duties and hasn’t appeared at placekicker. This could change going forward.

Just like every position on the team, the kicking spot is fluid. Penn State could very well dig deep into its depth chart and utilize Sahaydak or even true freshman Alex Bacchetta moving forward.

“We’re going to need every player in that locker room…Some guys’ roles are going to increase as the year goes on. Some guys’ roles are going to decrease as the year goes on,” Franklin said. “And that’s the balancing act.”

Pinegar is 9-for-19 for kicks more than 40 yards in his career. That jumps to 14-for-18 when he’s between 30 and 39 yards. Working in Sahaydak could be a wise move.

But, it’s tough to say that a road SEC environment is the right place to do that.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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