Penn State: Passing: 10/19 for 141 yards, 1 INT
Rushing: 41 rushes for 330 yards, 4 TDs
Leaders: Passing: Christian Hackenberg (see above)
Receiving: DaeSean Hamilton (5-86)
Rushing: Saquon Barkley (21-195, 2 TDs)
Rutgers: Passing: 27/42 for 251 yards, 2 INT
Rushing: 32 -43 yards, 0 TD
Leaders: Passing: Chris Laviano (see above)
Receiving: Carlton Agudosi (6-80)
Speaking of kinks, the passing game remains one (and not the fun kind). Hackenberg has yet to cut loose with a dominant performance, and the blame for that rests evenly between himself and the coaching staff. On the one hand, players make plays. Truly great quarterbacks transcend systems, elevate their teams, shine against lesser competition, and all that other trite BS. On the other hand, coaches who aren't morons tailor their offensive system to the players they have, not the players they want. They game plan to maximize the talent on their roster while exploiting weakness in their opponents. In other words, they do roughly twice what the Penn State coaching staff has been doing.
Against a Rutgers team facing huge adversity (AKA, being shipwrecked by the type of institutional boneheadedness that Rutgers is cornering the market on), Penn State ignored the biggest weakness on the whole team: the secondary. Only 19 pass plays called against a secondary that has half (or less) of the starters they planned on just a few weeks ago? Sure, the running game was awesome. Sure, you take wins where you get them. But when you are up 21-0 at the half against a conference "rival" with a running game that has set the tone thus far, don't you take a few extra shots downfield against a weak secondary to let your quarterback shake his demons?
But Brian, wouldn't that be running up the score?
Who cares? It's not like they were playing Temple (Whomp-whomp). This is a conference opponent. You take your struggling offense, pretend it's a jagged rock, and bang every surface of it against your enemy until you figure out which edge is sharpest. In this case that was the running game, but I would have liked to see the passing side of the rock get a little more bloody.
Speaking of bloody, you had to feel bad for Rutgers QB Laviano in this game. Rutgers fans (those exist?) are calling for the backup as fans are wont to do, but I like the kid. Sacked five times for 51 yards, Laviano still looked like he wanted to win this game well into the 3rd quarter. The numbers don't even do justice to the level of harassment he faced.
On the other side of the ball, Saquon Barkley was amazing. Sure, Lynch was the "Player of the Game" according to Penn State's media folks, but please tell me how 195 yards for 2 TDs is less impressive than 120 for 1, especially when 75 yards and the sole touchdown came on a play where Rutgers was so misaligned, I could have run that ball (Lie. I would get tired and sit down until someone brought me pirogies and a Yuengling). Saquon was simply stellar, and his second Big Ten Freshman of the Week award could not be more obviously deserved. Lynch is a good back, but it is abundantly clear who the superior talent is.
Let's take a moment to also appreciate the budding talent that is Troy Reeder. A redshirt freshman, Reeder has stepped into a starting role and looked very solid. Coaches are excited about his upside as an athlete, and he definitely seems to have a nose for the game. He had 8 tackles this Saturday, one for loss.
Time for Saturday's game balls:
Saquon Barkley: 21 rushes for 195, 2 TD
Jordan Lucas: 9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Pass Breakup, 1 awesome special teams play (see YouTube video above)
Chris Laviano: 251 yards passing, and because the rest of NJ can suck it.
Jordan Hicks: Because your defense sucks and Hicks is the clear starter you morons.
Late minute dig at Rutgers: They are the Florida of athletic departments.