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Penn State’s Post-Northwestern Report Card

Penn State football went on its second road trip of the season, this time to Evanston, Illinois, where it pounded Northwestern 41-13 despite a slow start.

The defense kept Penn State in the game for much of the first half as the offense struggled to gain anything on the Northwestern defense. The Nittany Lions matched the Wildcats score-for-score and went to the locker room tied 10-10 after the first half.

The second half, however, featured a tough Penn State offense that put up 31 points to Northwestern’s three.

With that being said, we tried to average out the two halves to see how Penn State’s position groups fared against Northwestern.

Quarterbacks: B

Drew Allar struggled to start this game. Despite ending the game with 189 yards and a touchdown pass from two yards out, Allar missed a lot. The first few drives of the game weren’t clean at all, and many drives stalled with a pass that landed at the feet of the intended receiver.

However, Allar attempted a few deep balls and also completed a 35-yard pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith in what was his second-longest completion of the year. Despite the slow first half, Allar played well in the second and redeemed himself.

Beau Pribula entered the game on what ended up being the last offensive drive of the game and found Trey Potts for a 30-yard passing touchdown on his only passing attempt of the day.

Running Backs: A-

While the big plays weren’t there again, the running backs performed relatively well. Penn State rushed for exactly 67 yards in each half, and both Trey Potts and Nick Singleton scored a rushing touchdown. Singleton and Potts also added a receiving touchdown. Kaytron Allen left the game in the second quarter and Potts immediately took his spot and scored a 13-yard touchdown on his first play of the game.

Singleton ended the game with 80 yards on 21 carries, while Potts had three carries for 21 yards. Through a quarter and a half, Allen recorded 27 yards on six carries.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers had another tough day without a reliable target in Trey Wallace, who was listed as questionable again against Northwestern and wasn’t targeted at all. Allar missed some throws that he should’ve made, but the receivers still didn’t contribute the way they have been.

Lambert-Smith led receivers with 86 yards, but only caught half of his targets with a long of 35 yards, one of the longest passing plays of the season. Dante Cephas started again in place of Wallace but finished the game with 21 yards after catching two of his seven targets. Liam Clifford was the only other wide receiver to catch a pass. Clifford was targeted twice but only made one catch for six yards.

Tight Ends: A-

Much like in the West Virginia season opener, the tight ends weren’t used much against Northwestern. Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren combined for 38 yards through the air. Johnson caught two of the four balls thrown his way for 13 yards, while Warren caught two of his three targets for 25 yards.

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line still struggled to create big lanes for Singleton and the rest of the running backs to run through on Saturday. Penn State averaged 3.4 yards per rush but only allowed one sack during the matchup. Northwestern only hurried Allar three times with two tackles-for-loss in what was a good pass-blocking showing but a less-than-stellar run-blocking performance.

Front Seven: A+

The defense once again kept Penn State in the game early. Northwestern started its first drive at the Penn State 11-yard line and only managed a field goal. The defense sacked Ben Bryant seven times and made 12 tackles-for-loss that resulted in 59 yards lost for the Northwestern offense.

The Nittany Lion front seven slowed down in the turnover battle this week as it didn’t force a fumble or make any interceptions. The front seven also hurried Bryant six times.

Northwestern only managed 45 yards on the ground Saturday in what has been a dominant few weeks against the run by Penn State.

Secondary: A+

Northwestern’s passing game didn’t work against the Penn State defense, either. The cornerbacks and safeties allowed only 130 yards through the air. Kevin Winston led the team with four solo tackles, while Keaton Ellis recorded three tackles of his own. Daequan Hardy secured Penn State’s only turnover of the game on a play that looked like backup Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan mistook Hardy for a player on his own team and threw the ball right to him.

Special Teams: C

Special teams once again struggled on Saturday, only this time, the returners had a tough time, while the kickers fared well. Singleton fumbled on the opening kickoff and started the bad momentum that infected the team throughout the first half. Kaden Saunders didn’t do much while returning punts, finding two yards on his only return attempt.

Alex Felkins went 2-2 on field goals from both 20 and 47 yards while Riley Thompson punted four times for an average of 46.8 yards and a long of 50. Thompson also pinned the Wildcats inside their own 20-yard line twice.

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior 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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