Penn State secondary bracing for another pass-heavy opponent in Ohio Bobcats

·3 min read

Oh, you thought things would be easier for Penn State in Week 2? After going head-to-head with one of the Big Ten’s top passing offenses led by Aidan O’Connell, the Nittany Lions will once again be put to the test in the air by the Ohio Bobcats, who come to Happy Valley this Saturday for a Week 2 matchup in Penn State’s home opener in Beaver Stadium.

Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke passed for 345 yards and four touchdowns in Ohio’s Week 1 over FAU. He completed 27 of 34 pass attempts in the process and showed improved decision-making according to his head coach.

“I really like where he’s at,” Ohio head coach Tim Albin said following Ohio’s Week 1 win over FAU. “I got a little frustrated with him on a couple of things. But he had great answers and last year that was not the case. So, he took a big step.”

Rourke played in 10 games for Ohio last season and completed 169 passes for 1,801 yards and 11 touchdowns.  After one game, he is already on pace to surpass those numbers with ease.

For as much hype as Penn State’s pass defense had received coming into the start of the 2022 season, Purdue’s O’Connell made them work all night long on Thursday night. Penn State gave up 356 passing yards to end Week 1 with the Big Ten’s worst passing defense, statistically. Of course, it is just one game, but given this plays into Ohio’s strengths, it is a slight area of concern for defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to focus on in practice going into Week 2.

It is also worth recognizing that Penn State’s passing yards allowed were bound to be high given the nature of Purdue’s offensive identity. O’Connell attempted 58 passes against the Nittany Lions, but he only completed 29 of those passes. The 6.1 yards allowed per attempt was seventh-best in the Big Ten through Week 1. Once again, the beauty of overreacting to Week 1 stats. Trends will need a couple more games to be established this season.

But will Ohio be able to attack the same way Purdue did? Ohio has a go-to receiver in former Vanderbilt wide receiver James Bostic. Bostic should rack up a good receiving total after gaining 136 yards last week. Purdue got a similar outing from their main receiver last week when Charlie Jones hauled in 12 passes for 153 yards.

Joey Porter Jr. could be in for another active day against Ohio’s best wide receiver.

Penn State hosts Ohio on Saturday, September 10 at 12:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Penn State has opened as a big favorite.

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