Penn State’s Post-Indiana Report Card
That wasn’t pretty.
James Franklin mentioned the importance of not letting the loss to Ohio State strike twice before Saturday’s game against Indiana. For most of the game, it looked like Penn State might just let that happen.
Drew Allar threw his first collegiate interception late in the game but responded with a 57-yard bomb to KeAndre Lambert-Smith in what was one of the most exciting plays of the Penn State season.
The defense also had a tough game. Without Chop Robinson on the end of the defensive line, the Nittany Lions let the Indiana running game find its groove and also allowed two huge scoring plays through the air that both went for more than 65 yards.
With the upset avoided, let’s take a look at how Penn State’s position groups fared against the Hoosiers.
All things considered, this wasn’t Allar’s best game, but it was far from his worst. The youngster had a 65% completion rate along with 210 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Wide receivers once again struggled to give Allar a reliable target, but the quarterback put up a good stat line regardless. Allar also tossed his first collegiate interception late in the game deep within Penn State territory, but the defense held the Hoosiers to a field goal.
The narrative is getting old, but Allar finally chucked it deep and connected with Lambert-Smith. The 57-yard catch-and-run touchdown was the team’s longest since the fourth offensive play of the season when the two connected for a 72-yard touchdown. The long score was also his second pass attempt after throwing the late interception.
Running Backs: B-
The duo of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen still haven’t returned to their production from a season ago. The duo combined for 131 yards on 33 attempts against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten. The longest run of the game was a 12-yard rush by Allen, but Singleton could only manage seven yards for his longest of the day.
Penn State was held to just 3.1 yards per carry in the loss. Despite the inability to produce big plays, the running backs were relied on and consistently produced mid-yardage gains like James Franklin needed them to. The backs were also more involved in the passing game Saturday, with Singleton finishing second on the team in passing yards with 31 on five receptions while Allen added two receptions for 13 yards.
Wide Receivers: C+
The wide receiver room suffered another blow when Trey Wallace left early on in the game and didn’t return to action. Creating separation was once again an issue for the room as Allar only completed passes to Lambert-Smith and Dante Cephas on Saturday. Lambert-Smith ended the game with 96 yards on six receptions but also added a costly drop along with the big-play touchdown. Cephas was targeted five times during the win, catching two passes for 15 yards.
Tight Ends: B+
The tight ends stepped up as pass-catchers on Saturday and caught two touchdowns from Allar. Khalil Dinkins caught his second touchdown of the year on a big fourth-down conversion from the nine-yard line for the first Penn State touchdown of the day. Theo Johnson caught the other touchdown pass on a 16-yard throw that capped off a gritty 12-play drive that took over six minutes off the clock to start the second half.
Tyler Warren didn’t score a touchdown during the outing but still finished third on the team in passing yards, catching two of his three targets for 25 yards.
Offensive Line: C+
The offensive line struggled to stop a bad defense on Saturday. The Hoosiers got to Allar three times and managed six total tackles for loss on a day when the gunslinger needed a lot of time to find an open receiver.
The 3.1 average yards per carry was also a product of the offensive line’s play as the running backs struggled to not just break away, but get past the line of scrimmage.
Front Seven: B-
The front seven was without standout defensive end Chop Robinson against Indiana, and it took a toll on the group. Dani Dennis-Sutton did a good job in Robinson’s place with six total tackles and a sack while also forcing the game-winning fumble from Hoosier quarterback Brendan Sorsby.
The front seven allowed 80 rushing yards against a team that has trouble running the ball. Dennis-Sutton was the only member of the front seven that got to the quarterback with two of three sacks coming from members of the secondary. It wasn’t pretty, but the line held when it needed to.
Kalen King had another tough game covering wide receivers as the Hoosiers put up 269 yards through the air during Saturday’s contest. The secondary also got burned twice, once for a 90-yard score in the first quarter and once on a 69-yard score two drives later where no one was anywhere near the receiver from the start of the play.
Despite the tough day, the secondary was led by Jaylen Reed, who recorded eight total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a momentum-swinging interception that set up Penn State for a field goal that sent the Nittany Lions to the locker room with a three-point lead.
Special Teams: B
Alex Felkins had a decent day where he made a 50-yard field goal, but missed a 51-yard attempt from the left hash. Punter Riley Thompson was called on six times, where he put together an average boot of 49 yards while pinning the Hoosiers inside their own 20-yard line twice.
Daequan Hardy returned another punt for a kick, but the play was called back after Kolin Dinkins was called for an illegal block in the back. With the 86-yard touchdown return negated, Hardy finished with seven return yards on three attempts.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions’ contest at Ford Field will be televised on NBC.
Our staffers unanimously predicted the Nittany Lions to win convincingly in Detroit.
Black Friday will be the 38th meeting between the two programs, and the all-time series is tied at 18-18-1.