Analyzing Post-UMass Reactions For Penn State Football
We’re almost there, folks. It’s almost time for Ohio State.
But first, Penn State football just finished up its sixth game of the season with a 63-0 rout over UMass to finish off Homecoming celebrations in Happy Valley.
The game featured three passing touchdowns from Drew Allar, rushing touchdowns from Kaytron Allen, Beau Pribula, Trey Potts, and Allar, two punt return touchdowns from Daequan Hardy, and a 39-yard rush from Tank Smith.
With the Buckeyes down the interstate in Columbus and the Minutemen now in the rearview mirror, our football writers broke down the hottest takes regarding Penn State right now.
Penn State Is Ready For Ohio State
Joe Lister: No. But apparently, Ohio State isn’t either, per Buckeyes boss Ryan Day. Don’t get me wrong, Penn State’s defense is ready for any team in the nation — this group sacks Michael Penix Jr. three times and picks off Caleb Williams twice given the chance. The offense still leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, it put up 63 points last week and 31 points on a very talented Iowa defense. I’m still just uncomfortable.
Put this take on the bulletin board, James. Do whatever you want.
C.J. Doebler: As ready as it can be. While we haven’t seen the flashy production that’s normally attributed to good teams, Penn State has an average margin of victory of just over 36 points a game and has played good football for all but one half against Northwestern.
Drew Allar hasn’t exactly dazzled in his two road starts thus far, but Saturday is a completely different animal that will give the young quarterback a chance to showcase exactly how good he can be. The defense, however, has dominated every game so far, and I think it’s more than ready to face the Ohio State offense.
There’s always room for improvement, but Penn State doesn’t have to be completely perfect to beat a weaker Buckeye team than we’ve seen in recent contests. Overall, Penn State is heading to Columbus with its best chance to beat the Buckeyes in a long time.
Nolan Wick: The Nittany Lions look as ready as they’ve ever been to face the Buckeyes. If they’re going to get it done again under Franklin, it’s going to happen on Saturday.
Both programs are seemingly heading in opposite directions in 2023. Penn State’s team looks tough and confident, and it wins ballgames by several points. Ohio State, on the other hand, seems to be trending downward even though it would still make the College Football Playoff if the season ended today. The Buckeyes seem to have trouble closing out games at least every other week, and there are clearly flaws on the roster. If these hold into the weekend, Penn State should win.
Penn State’s Best Receivers Are Its Tight Ends
Joe Lister: At this point, this might be true. Getting Trey Wallace back into the rotation against UMass was huge for Penn State — at worst, he’s an extra receiver to defend. At best, he’s a playmaker —but Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren still look like they have the team on their backs. KeAndre Lambert-Smith isn’t going to be Drew Allar’s Jahan Dotson, and it looks like Penn State’s going to have to get by with the tight ends muscling their way into the end zone.
C.J. Doebler: Saturday was a big day for the tight end room. Getting Trey Wallace back as a target was something that needed to happen before Ohio State, but the wide receivers still didn’t look great against UMass. All year we’ve been waiting for a third wide receiver to separate from the rest of the room. This hasn’t happened, and the passing game is still underdeveloped, but I think the tight ends are acting as a great avenue of relief for Allar when his receivers are covered.
Nolan Wick: Penn State has always been a big tight end school, so I think there’s truth to this. Both Tyler Warren and Theo Johnson can do it all, which includes catching passes. It adds up because both players have talked at length about their chemistry with Drew Allar. Additionally, the wide receiver room is still underdeveloped. There aren’t a lot of huge plays and that explosive “it” factor seems to be missing.
Manny Diaz Has Given Penn State The Best Defense In The Country
Joe Lister: It feels like we say this every week now, but since we weren’t able to say it after the bye week, the answer is still yes. UMass was Penn State’s second shutout performance of the season after the Nittany Lions didn’t let Iowa score, the first time that’s happened to the Hawkeyes in around 20 years. All the numbers — scoring defense, total defense, passing defense, rushing defense — all show that Penn State has a talented group.
C.J. Doebler: When we last discussed this take a few weeks ago, I wasn’t completely on board with calling them the absolute best in the nation. After the seven-sack performance and a first half where it gave up one rushing yard, I’m sold — Manny Diaz’s defense is the best.
Nolan Wick: Yeah, and it has been for weeks at this point. We do talk about this often, but I don’t mind — let’s savor it. That defense plays with so much swagger and confidence, which is so entertaining to watch.
Penn State Doesn’t Have The Deep Ball In Its Arsenal
Joe Lister: First, justice for Cory Giger. The DK Pittsburgh writer got bullied online for asking James Franklin if he ever told Allar to just throw the ball deep, but Allar then threw the ball deep on several occasions against UMass while missing his target all but once.
I am genuinely cynical enough to wonder if Franklin told Allar to overthrow his receivers so that Ohio State had nothing to scout. Allar has made tight throws before, note his touchdown pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith against Iowa, so we know that Allar can make those passes, he just didn’t on Saturday. Consensus: undecided.
C.J. Doebler: From a deep-ball perspective, Saturday was concerning.
Penn State’s receivers showed that they may not be able to create separation as easily as most thought, and Allar threw a few balls that were just out of the reach of an open receiver. It was nice to see the Nittany Lions at least attempt the deep ball, something that they haven’t done often throughout the first five games. However, the inability to connect is going to be a problem now that the real games are about to begin.
Nolan Wick: Saturday was slightly worrisome. The deep ball issue is the one thing that worries me heading into Ohio State, and they’ll need to have at least one or two home run-caliber plays for this. However, we’ve seen Allar make these types of passes before, so he can certainly do it again.
Kaytron Allen Has Been Better Than Nick Singleton
Joe Lister: Kaytron Allen has just looked like the better back. Nick Singleton’s game comes from those big, 80-yard explosive plays, but those just haven’t come. Allen has played his shifty, saucy game consistently, getting Penn State into the red zone, and often getting beyond.
C.J. Doebler: Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen have been used in very different capacities throughout every game. Sometimes Franklin uses Singleton as a red-zone back while Allen handles the open field, other times Allen and Singleton have split reps almost equally.
Neither back has been able to break off any long runs so far, but they’ve both consistently picked up mid-distance gains and opened up the playbook on later downs. Allen, however, has a slightly higher average carry and always seems to find extra yards where it looks like there’s nothing to be gained. Currently, Allen has 13 more rushing yards than his counterpart, while Singleton has three more touchdowns. It’s a really tight race, but right now, I’m leaning toward Allen.
Nolan Wick: As of right now, Kaytron Allen has been slightly better than Nick Singleton. Allen’s 375 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry trump Singleton’s 362 and 4.1 in those areas. It’s also worth noting that Allen has had 11 fewer carries than Singleton. However, Singleton has six touchdowns, which is twice as much as Allen.
I’ll lean in favor of Allen at the moment, but that’s always subject to change. They’re both incredible running backs, so this is a good, fun debate to have.
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About the Author
The ranking comes after the Nittany Lions defeated Michigan State 42-0 on Black Friday.
This is the first time the Lady Lions have received AP Poll votes since 2014.
The Onward State crew headed to the Motor City for some football, pizza, and a swing set overlooking Canada.