Penn State Football’s Post-Ohio State Report Card
The undefeated bid is over, folks.
Penn State football dropped its matchup with Ohio State 20-12 in Columbus on Saturday. Drew Allar wasn’t his usual self inside Ohio Stadium, and the passing game never took shape for the Nittany Lions.
For a brief second, it looked like Saturday was going to be Nick Singleton’s day, but two big runs resulted in the majority of the running back’s yards.
Let’s take a look at where it all went wrong for the Nittany Lions inside the ‘Shoe.
Even though he’s had games with fewer passing yards and no touchdown passes, this was one of Allar’s worst games yet. Allar boasted a 42.9% completion rate along with 191 yards and a late-game touchdown pass to wide receiver Kaden Saunders but looked out of sync with his receivers for most of the day. Allar threw a career-high 42 passes against the Buckeyes.
Allar looked for KeAndre Lambert-Smith 12 times on Saturday but could only connect on six attempts for 52 yards. Lambert-Smith was once again Allar’s top target ahead of Theo Johnson, who caught just two of Allar’s eight targets for 39 yards.
Running Backs: B-
The rushing stat sheet doesn’t tell the tale of a B-, but the backs had success early before being abandoned by Mike Yurcich with Kaytron Allen and Singleton only carrying the ball nine times each.
The running backs looked like they could be the difference-maker on Saturday with Singleton breaking off for a 20-yard and 16-yard rush on consecutive plays early in the first quarter. The success quickly fizzled out for Singleton who only gained 12 yards outside of the two runs in the first quarter.
Allen got the start against the Buckeyes and gained six yards on the first play of the game. Allen’s rush was followed by two straight incompletions on an opening-drive three-and-out, and he finished the day with 29 yards.
Wide Receivers: D-
While some of the passing game’s struggles can be pinned on Allar, he can’t complete passes when there’s nobody open.
Allar’s top target, Lambert-Smith, couldn’t create any separation and even Franklin admitted postgame that Allar wouldn’t be able to succeed if there was no one around him to make plays. Trey Wallace’s return hasn’t been what the Nittany Lions needed it to be as he only caught two passes for 19 yards.
Allar completed passes to five different wide receivers on Saturday, culminating in a late-game Kaden Saunders grab that got the score back to a one-possession game with less than a minute left in the game.
Tight Ends: C
When the wide receivers aren’t open, Allar has often looked toward his tight ends. Against Ohio State, they weren’t open either. Theo Johnson was second on the team in targets with eight but only came down with two and amassed 39 yards, the majority of which came after the catch.
Tyler Warren, Allar’s other option at tight end, caught one pass behind the line of scrimmage for a gain of 11 yards and couldn’t connect with Allar on his only other target of the day.
Offensive Line: C
With Allar’s sacks, Penn State didn’t crack 50 rushing yards during Saturday’s contest. The Nittany Lions’ offensive line, which has incredible depth and talent, also struggled to stop Ohio State’s pass rush.
The Buckeye blitz got to Allar four times during the loss and amassed eight tackles for 45 yards lost. Left tackle and potential first-round pick Olu Fashanu wasn’t happy with how he played against the Buckeyes and said there are plenty of opportunities to fix the mistakes in the future.
Front Seven: B+
Penn State’s defensive front seven didn’t exactly excel against the Buckeye offensive line, but they got to the backfield on more than one occasion.
The Nittany Lions were left without one of their top defensive ends after Chop Robinson exited the game during the second quarter after a hit to the head. Even without Robinson, the Nittany Lions managed nine tackles for loss and two sacks during the loss. Defensive end Adisa Isaac stepped up in Robinson’s absence with two tackles for loss and a half sack.
While the Buckeyes were without their top running back TreVeyon Henderson, they only managed 107 yards on the ground against a stout Nittany Lion defensive front.
The secondary had one of the toughest jobs any team will face all year in being tasked with guarding NFL-bound Marvin Harrison Jr.
Kalen King primarily lined up against Harrison, but the linebackers found themselves in coverage a few times as well. In all, the secondary wasn’t able to completely limit Harrison and he came away with 11 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Daequan Hardy was the star of the secondary after recording three pass breakups and six total tackles.
Special Teams: B-
Punter Riley Thompson was called on a lot in Columbus, punting nine times. Thompson had one of his best games to date booting a long of 54 yards en route to an average of 43.7 yards. Thompson also pinned the Buckeyes inside their own 20-yard line four times.
Alex Felkins connected on both 40- and 41-yard field goal attempts for what ended up being the only points of the game for Penn State until the final minute of play.
After the two punt return performance last week against UMass, Hardy took over at the punt returner spot and couldn’t find the success he had last game. Hardy attempted one return for 15 yards but notably missed a short Ohio State punt that rolled all the way to the 25-yard line before being down, costing the Nittany Lions about 20 yards of field position.
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About the Author
Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Our staff is thankful for all sorts of things this year, including chicken baskets, Flipps Grill, and Saquon Barkley.
We made up some hypothetical significant others to lie to your family about over the holidays in case you’re sad and lonely.
Mmmm… I smell turkey.