Penn State vs. Ohio State: Report card

Oct. 23—Quarterbacks: Teary-eyed and frustrated by his performance, Drew Allar promised better after completing just 18 of 42 passes. Nearly 40 percent of his 191 yards passing came on the game's last series against a prevent defense. It was not good. Certainly, it was not all his fault. But he also didn't throw any of his receivers open, and his decision-making wasn't always on point. Good experience for down the road, perhaps. But all in all, it was a shoddy performance — even for a sophomore making just his seventh career start. GRADE: D

Running backs: It's somewhat inexplicable that offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich never gave the running game a real chance to get going. It was used sporadically and seemingly without purpose. Nick Singleton actually looked like he was having some success, breaking a 20-yard run in the first half, but ultimate he nor Kaytron Allen got going, and the offense has gone through them since the beginning of 2022. GRADE: C+

Receivers: They aren't good enough. Wideouts caught just 13 passes on the 28 times Allar targeted them, which is mind-boggling considering how few times they tried to get any of them open on a risky deeper throw. KeAndre Lambert-Smith's six catches for 52 yards wasn't bad, but he was what he is in this game: a solid No. 2 receiver. This team badly needs a No. 1. They just didn't make plays against a decent secondary. GRADE: F

Offensive line: Buckeyes DE J.T. Tuimoloau didn't dominate the game the way he did last year, but he had his moments against LT Olu Fashanu. Allar was sacked just three times, two on a desperation drive late. There seemed to be some holes for the running backs, but that doesn't matter if there are no plays being called to get them the ball. GRADE: C-

Defensive line: They stood in against a bigger Buckeyes offensive line and held up their own end of the bargain. Ohio State managed just 79 yards rushing on 41 carries, a fascinating number, and quarterback Kyle McCord got plenty of pressure put on him. Most of that came without star DE Chop Robinson, who left the game with an apparent head injury. GRADE: A-

Linebackers: They were in on a lot of those plays that helped control the Buckeyes running game, led by MLB Kobe King. Curtis Jacobs' apparent scoop and score in the first half would have given Penn State a lead and a ton of momentum, but a penalty brought it back. Jacobs and Abdul Carter had nine tackles apiece. GRADE: B+

Defensive backs: It was a first-round NFL Draft-pick test for Kalen King, who struggled against Buckeyes star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. But, Johnny Dixon played well, and both young safeties — Jaylen Reed and K.J. Winston — had a better-than-solid game. So did backup safety Zakee Wheatley, who made two tackles to lead the way on a key goal line stand. Still, playing this Buckeyes team, you have to have a good plan. Not sure they had anything dialed up that was working on Harrison. GRADE: C-

Special teams: Penn State's lone forced turnover came when a short Riley Thompson punt came down on top of Lorenzo Styles Jr.'s foot and was recovered by linebacker Tyler Elsdon. Punt returner Daequan Hardy badly misjudged a Jesse Mirco punt, letting it fall behind him and roll to the 25 for a 72-yard boot. Seemed imminently returnable, and it flipped field position toward the Buckeyes at a critical juncture. GRADE: C

Coaching: Defense, OK. — except for all of the times Harrison was able to make an impact. But this was a dreadful performance for Yurcich. The play-calling was far from his typical balanced effort, and it's inconceivable how it got so far away from him in what was a one-score game most of the day. Head coach James Franklin needs to be more hands-on with the gameplan. Just too many critical errors all around to think anybody is trending in the best possible direction. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz comes close, though. GRADE: F-

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