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Penn State’s Post-Illinois Report Card

Penn State collected a road win over Illinois and moved to 3-0 on the season Saturday.

After the blowout victory over Delaware last week, Penn State opened up Big Ten play on the road for the eighth straight year, and the 13th time in the last 14 seasons. Penn State’s offense struggled to finish drives throughout the first half and had to settle for four field goal attempts on five trips into enemy territory.

The defense, however, played lights out, forcing five turnovers on four interceptions and one forced fumble.

As Penn State turns its attention to this week’s White Out against Iowa, let’s take a look at how each position group performed against Illinois.

Quarterbacks: B

Drew Allar didn’t look like the same Drew Allar that played in Beaver Stadium for the last two weeks. Allar went 16-33 for 208 yards during the victory, his lowest completion percentage of the year. Allar missed wide open receivers on more than one occasion and was flushed out of the pocket often. In fact, the running back room had more touchdown passes than Allar did. Pribula only threw the ball three times, but didn’t find his target on any of his throws.

Not all of the blame should be placed on Allar, though. Penn State’s offensive line struggled against Illinois’ strong defensive front seven, while there were multiple drops from the wide receivers as well. This marks the first time this season that the quarterbacks received anything other than an A+. However, it may have just been away-game jitters.

Running Backs: C+

The plus is for the Trey Potts touchdown pass, by the way.

Other than that, the running backs had a pretty lackluster day. At the end of the first half, Allar was the leading rusher with only 24 yards. With the running back room that Penn State has, that shouldn’t happen. Kaytron Allen led the running backs with 54 yards and a touchdown, while Singleton had only 37 yards with one touchdown and averaged 3.4 yards per carry.

Once again, the offensive line shoulders some of the blame, but the running backs could never get anything going on the ground. The backs still haven’t broken big plays like the offense needs them to. Singleton’s 16-yard rushing touchdown during the fourth quarter was his longest rush of the year. Last year, his longest rush was for 87 yards.

Wide Receivers: C

The wide receivers were without Trey Wallace on Saturday, and they suffered. The player with the most receiving yards during the contest was a running back. The player with the second-most receiving yards was a tight end. KeAndre Lambert-Smith finished third in recieving yards, with 23 yards on three catches and five targets.

Malik McClain got the start at wide receiver this week but struggled to catch the ball. McClain was targeted six times but only made one catch good for six yards. Kaden Saunders also got reps with the offense this week, catching two balls for 19 yards.

Tight Ends: B+

The tight ends had a good performance on Saturday, combining for 67 yards and a touchdown, 13 more yards than the room had last week. Tyler Warren had the most receiving yards of the tight ends, finishing with 35 yards and a touchdown.

Theo Johnson finished the game with 32 yards on two catches, but the Canadian was targeted five times. Last week, the tight ends caught every ball thrown their way.

Offensive Line: D

The offensive line had its issues with the Illini front seven on Saturday. The Nittany Lions rushed for 164 yards, with Pribula recording 47 of those yards in the fourth quarter. Both running backs averaged below five yards a carry, and Allar was hurried three times. The Illini also recorded four tackles-for-loss and a sack. The offensive line was penalized three times, including two false starts and one hold that accounted for 20 of the 70 yards Penn State lost to penalties.

Franklin credited the Illini front seven, saying it went with a lot of different looks, including some five and six-man defensive fronts. Franklin said the tape from the game will be good for the team to watch.

Front Seven: A

The defense played lights-out on Saturday. The front seven held Illinois to 62 rushing yards, less than what Delaware rushed for a week ago. Kobe King led the team with four tackles and a forced fumble that Dom DeLuca picked up early in the first quarter. DeLuca also recorded a tackle-for-loss. Quarterback Luke Altmyer was hurried two times, and Penn State had seven tackles for loss.

Abdul Carter finished with two tackles and an interception, one of four by the defense during the game.

Secondary: A+

Illinois had 292 yards passing on Saturday, but the secondary still put together a good performance. The cornerbacks and safeties picked off three more of Altmyer’s passes while also breaking up two passes. The Illini won’t be the best offense that Penn State sees this season, but it was nice to see the defense is capable of picking up the slack of an underproductive offense.

Special Teams: A-

Alex Felkins once again got the start on Saturday and was called on often during the first half. The placekicker accounted for 10 points alone in a first half that saw Penn State only score 16. Felkins’ only misstep came on a blocked 52-yard field goal attempt. Felkins owned his mistake postgame, saying he “chunked it.” Punter Riley Thompson punted six times for an average of 43.8 yards, pinning the Illini inside their own 20-yard line twice.

Singleton attempted a kick return three times, gaining 54 yards. Saunders only attempted two punt returns, notching 16 yards.

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a sophomore double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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