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Penn State’s Post-Ohio State Report Card

Penn State lost a 44-31 heartbreaker to Ohio State at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Everything looked great for almost three-and-a-half quarters, as the Nittany Lions led 21-16 with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Similar to recent years, James Franklin oversaw a complete and utter collapse, as the Buckeyes responded by putting up 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to leave Nittany Nation heartbroken. So on that note, let’s hand out some grades.

Quarterbacks: C

Yes, Sean Clifford threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns. But the four turnovers — three interceptions and one fumble — are unacceptable. That just can’t happen, especially with the latter two coming in the fourth quarter. You’re not beating the No. 2 team in the country when your quarterback turns the ball over four times.

Running Backs: B

Kaytron Allen had a great game. The true freshman rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He was able to complete his assignments when needed, and he constantly demonstrated his outstanding vision on the field to pick up valuable yards. His counterpart, Nick Singleton, was behind him with a less impressive 45 yards on 14 carries. He had a tough day on the ground, as his longest rush was for only six yards.

Wide Receivers: B+

It’s a shame that Penn State’s loss completely overshadowed Parker Washington’s career day. He was all over the Buckeyes’ secondary, as the Sugar Land, Texas, native recorded a career-high 179 receiving yards on 11 catches, including an impressive 58-yard touchdown reception that jumpstarted Penn State’s offense.

Washington also led Penn State with 14 targets. The next most-targeted receiver was Mitchell Tinsley with six. He caught five passes for 24 yards. KeAndre Lambert-Smith got in the mix, too, with two catches for 58 yards, which included a 23-yard touchdown reception that gave Penn State a 14-10 lead in the second quarter.

Tight Ends: B-

This group was relatively quiet. Both Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson were effective when needed, though. Johnson caught two passes for 57 yards, while Strange caught four for 13 yards. Tyler Warren had the quietest day of the tight ends with one catch for four yards.

Offensive Line: D+

It was a roller coaster of a game for Penn State’s offensive line. There were times when Clifford had all the time in the world to work the pocket and the group was performing at a high level. But the lows were very low, as Ohio State defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau tore up Penn State right tackle Bryce Effner.

Tuimoloau recorded two of Ohio State’s three sacks and was involved in three of Sean Clifford’s four turnovers with one forced fumble and recovery and two interceptions. Those are absurd numbers. That is going to end up overshadowing some bright play from the group, as it only allowed three sacks and four quarterback hurries.

Front Seven: B-

The front seven had a solid day outside of TreVeyon Henderson’s 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, which was an absolute killer. If you take out that run, the unit held Henderson to 46 rushing yards on 15 carries to average just over three yards per carry. It’s a shame that one big touchdown will overshadow the great day the unit had.

In total, the Buckeyes gained 122 yards on the ground on 26 carries. It’s still pretty impressive for the Penn State defense to limit Ohio State’s elite rushing attack like that. The group also sacked C.J. Stroud twice and had seven tackles for loss.

Secondary: C-

C.J. Stroud made Penn State’s secondary pay for every little mistake it made, as the signal-caller completed 26-of-33 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Harrison Jr. absolutely tore up the Nittany Lions’ secondary, as he one-upped Parker Washington with ten catches for 185 yards. Cade Stover and Emeka Egbuka had great days on the gridiron, too, with 78 and 53 receiving yards, respectively.

The open-field tackling was great, though, and had very much improved since the debacle at Michigan. Also, allowing only seven points on two consecutive short fields at the beginning of the game was crucial to keep Penn State in the game. Still, the last eight minutes of the game sadly defined the group’s overall performance.

Special Teams: B-

The special teams had an average day. Jake Pinegar made one field goal from 44 yards and booted a kickoff out of bounds after Lambert-Smith’s touchdown. Ohio State ended up kicking a field goal on that drive. Barney Amor punted the ball three times with a touchback and a long of 59 yards.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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