Sep 29, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Mike Hull (43) and Penn State Nittany Lions long snapper Michael Fuhrman (44) and Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Jesse Della Valle (39) celebrate after Fuhrman

Report Card: Penn State vs Illinois

The Nittany Lions won their Big Ten opener in convincing fashion yesterday, but there were some flaws. See how the team graded out below!

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks:  B

Statistically, Matt McGloin had another strong game. 60% rate. 211 yards and a touchdown plus two more scores on the ground seems solid on the surface. However, McGloin looked a bit like the 2010-2011 versions at time against the Illini. He was late on a couple throws and struggled with accuracy when he gave up on his mechanics. He had all day in the pocket but seemed to rush himself at times. Still, three touchdowns and no turnovers is going to be enough to win most games this year.

Running Backs:  A

Zach Zwinak led a backfield that rushed 45 times for 202 yards on Saturday. Zwinak turned in a 100 yard performance, while starter Bill Belton returned to carry the ball 16 times for 65 yards. There was at least one play that saw Belton in the slot. Keep an eye out for that formation in the future. He adds some versatility to the offense.

Wide Receivers:  C

A pretty lackluster performance here, though it was partially due to McGloin’s struggles. As a whole, three receivers caught just 10 passes for 96 yards.

Tight Ends:  A

The tight ends made big plays for the offense all day. Matt Lehman led the way with 5 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Carter chipped in with another 45 yards on 3 catches. This game was well in-hand in the third quarter and there weren’t as many catches to be had, but the tight ends took advantage of their opportunities.

Offensive Line:  A

Two hundred yards rushing and McGloin had all day in the pocket. Like much of the team, the line has really progressed since week one. They are getting much better at picking up the blitz and some of the holes that Zwinak was running through were very impressive.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line: A

The line was in on three sacks Saturday and kept Scheelhaase under pressure most of the day. Minus one rushing play that went for 52 yards, the line kept the running game in check, allowing 22 yards on 21 carries. They seem to have figured out how to defend the zone-read better than they had early in the year.

Linebackers: A+

Michael Mauti was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week after his two-interception, half sack performance and Gerald Hodges quietly chipped in 9 tackles of his own.

Secondary: B

The trick play caught Penn State off guard, allowing the lone touchdown. Other than that, the PSU secondary did a good job of “bending but not breaking.” Stephen Obeng-Agyapong is terrific in run support and Adrian Amos is evolving into a great defensive player.

Special Teams: B

Sam Ficken’s inability to kick anything through the uprights that isn’t an extra point may very well cost Penn State another win this season. I guess if you’re going to have a kicking unit like this one, it might as well be in a bowl-ineligible season. The punt unit forced a big turnover and Butterworth didn’t shank anything.

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Tags: Football Illinois Fighting Illlini Penn State Nittany Lions

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