How do we grade out Penn State's nail-biting win over Iowa Saturday night?
Quarterback: McSorley had another up and down performance. Throughout most of the first half, it was clear that he was uncomfortable in the pocket, which ultimately led to some knocked down passes and forced throws. He loosened up a bit as the game went on, but it wasn’t until the final two minutes that he put together a complete drive. Overall, it was an average, at best, performance for McSorley, but the clutch play late in the game moves him up a bit.
Running Back: With a primetime, nationally televised audience, it was clear from the start that the staff was going to showcase Saquon Barkley. He didn’t let the nation down, racking up a Penn State record 358 all-purpose yards. If Barkley can put together just one or two similar performances in the next eight games, he should all but assure himself a seat at the Heisman ceremony this December.
Wide Receiver: The entire unit struggled to create separation, but when it was all on the line, both Saeed Blacknall and Juwan Johnson came up with huge receptions.
Offensive Line: The O-Line will take a lot of gripe from fans this week, but most of that pressure all came from the right tackle spot. Andrew Nelson looked rusty, while Will Fries was forced into a tough position. Chasz Wright was sorely missed.
Defensive Line: Remember last week, when people were questioning Penn State’s depth and talent along the defensive front? Well, you’re not going to find too many fans questioning their potential now, as Sean Spencer’s unit put together one of the most complete D-Line performances that we’ve seen since the Paterno era.
Linebackers: Akrum Wadley had less than 50 yards rushing up until Iowa’s final play on offense. A big part of that was due to the aggressive play from the linebackers. However, their miscommunication on Iowa’s final score could’ve cost this team dearly. That was a big mistake that requires a hefty penalty.
Defensive backs: Penalties were an issue throughout the night, although one or two of those calls were questionable. Overall, Nate Stanley didn’t challenge the secondary all that much much, and that may be the reason why this performance feels average to above average, at most. A turnover or two could’ve really changed the makeup of this game.
Special Teams: The Nittany Lions have put together some excellent coverage teams this year, but punter Blake Gillikin has proven to be a major weapon all on his own. However, Tyler Davis’ stock has fallen a bit, as he missed a field goal attempt for the second week in a row. He then had a very makable 31-yard kick blocked with less than three minutes left in the game.
Coaches: Joe Moorhead has been an excellent play-caller throughout his short career at Penn State, but there were definitely some questionable calls. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Brent Pry put together an aggressive and effective game plan that worked almost to perfection on all but one or two drives on the evening. C for Moorhead, A for Pry.