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Penn State’s Post-Ohio Report Card

Following its home opener, Penn State football is officially 2-0 heading into an SEC showdown against Auburn.

It was smooth sailing for the Nittany Lions against Ohio Saturday, as James Franklin’s crew dispatched the Bobcats 46-10. A 19-point halftime advantage allowed Penn State to work in and develop plenty of reserves.

Despite a few hiccups, the Nittany Lions put up an impressive performance across the board. Let’s dive a bit into how each position group performed Saturday.

Quarterbacks: A

Penn State’s quarterback room was the talk of the town Saturday, largely thanks to Drew Allar’s extended Beaver Stadium debut.

But, Sean Clifford’s clean play early on put Penn State in a position to get its reserves playing time. He exited the game early in the second half after completing 70% of his 27 passes for 213 yards and a laser-like touchdown throw to Mitchell Tinsley.

Clifford executing throws with pinpoint accuracy, especially while taking a bit of heat up front, is a great sign for Mike Yurcich’s crew.

Allar picked up right where Clifford left off, continuing to lead a healthy share of the starting offensive unit down the field. He finished six-for-eight with 88 yards and two passing touchdowns, which is good for a stellar 249.9 passer rating.

The true freshman added 11 yards on the ground and generally looked impressive and comfortable in the pocket. His throws seemed effortless, he was accurate from long range, and he just continued to spark excitement about the future of the program. I mean, just look at this play:

Running Backs: A

Impressive true freshmen play carried right over from quarterback to running back. Keyvone Lee technically got the start, but Nick Singleton was the featured back all afternoon.

Singleton logged 179 yards on 10 carries, making him the first Penn State player to eclipse the century mark on the ground since 2020. He found the end zone twice, most notably on an electric 70-yard score.

Lee only had one carry on the afternoon and Kaytron Allen added 23 yards of his own on six attempts. It feels like the running back room is trending toward making the true freshmen the go-to guys.

Wide Receivers: A

After a questionable Purdue performance fit with a handful of drops, Taylor Stubblefield’s crew proved it was reliable Saturday.

Penn State had 17 individual players catch a pass against Ohio, which was more than the entire 2021 season, according to its strategic communications department. The Nittany Lions just continue to flex their depth across the board as young players like Omari Evans and Kaden Saunders made an impact.

Parker Washington and Trey Wallace led the way with four catches a pop, while Tinsley and Evans found the end zone. While he wasn’t announced on the video board, redshirt sophomore Jaden Dottin technically got the start by catching a pass on the first play of the game.

Tinsley, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Malick Meiga, and Liam Clifford all caught passes as well. No drops showed up on the stat sheet from a wideout this time around.

Tight Ends: B+

Penn State’s tight ends once again had a quiet performance. Theo Johnson was unavailable for the second straight game and the rest of the room combined for just three catches.

Redshirt freshman Khalil Dinkins caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Allar but did have the Nittany Lions’ lone drop of the day. Tyler Warren and Brenton strange each caught one pass on one target.

Offensive Line: C+

Once again, the offensive line did not exactly inspire confidence.

Phil Trautwein’s crew allowed five sacks on the day, which is quite frankly an embarrassing number against an inferior opponent like Ohio. The Bobcats did bring a good amount of pressure, often creating free defenders rushing the quarterback, but the line’s continued inconsistencies don’t bode well heading into the meat of the schedule.

Bryce Effner got some work in behind a struggling Caedan Wallace and Hunter Nourzad, despite briefly exiting the game with an injury, shared time with Landon Tengwall. Postgame, Franklin also knocked the interior line’s performance on special teams, which he suggested may have led to Jake Pinegar’s missed extra point and field goal.

Front Seven: B

There wasn’t much tangibly wrong with the performance of Penn State’s defensive line and linebacker group against Ohio, but it again felt like the group underperformed given its raw talent level. It was an all-around solid performance, but nothing to write home about.

Tyler Elsdon led the way with six tackles while reserve linebacker and true freshman Abdul Carter, who was ejected for targeting against Purdue was right behind him with five. Chop Robinson brought lots of pressure early and registered a tackle-for-loss.

No member of the front seven registered a sack, but Adisa Isaac, Curtis Jacobs, and Elsdon contributed with tackels-for-loss. Jonathan Sutherland and Amin Vanover also helped secure a safety.

Secondary: B+

Penn State’s secondary once again put on a generally lock-down performance, save for getting beat on a few trick plays from Ohio.

Ji’Ayir Brown led the group from a tackling standpoint with six stops while true freshman Cam Miller added five of his own. Marquis Wilson continued to show great athleticism with two of the team’s nine pass breakups.

Cornerback Johnny Dixon had the lone sack of the afternoon, which gives him two on the season and makes him the Nittany Lions’ season leader in that category. He added 1.5 tackles-for-loss as well.

Special Teams: B-

An incredible performance from punter Barney Amor and a shaky one from kicker Jake Pinegar cancel out to just a “meh” day from this group overall.

Amor punted three teams Saturday afternoon with an average distance of 49 yards. He was able to pin Ohio inside the one-yard line on one of the most impressive punts you’ll ever see, leading to the safety.

But, Pinegar did miss an extra point and a 42-yard field goal, raising questions about his consistency at placekicker. He did make five other extra points and a 25-yard chip shot. Gabe Nwosu and Sander Sahaydak continue to rotate kickoffs as neither has been able to consistently generate touchbacks.

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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 ryanparsons@onwardstate.com.

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