Who played well against the Cornhuskers, and who still has some work to do?
Penn State fell to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in the Big Ten Leaders Division on Saturday with a 17-14 loss against Nebraska at Beaver Stadium. Today, we take a look at who played well and who has some work to do as the Nittany Lions prepare to travel to Ohio State this weekend.
Quarterbacks: With Tom Bradley in charge, Matthew McGloin played the entire game and appears, finally, to have put the clamps on the starting job. Saturday was hardly his best performance, however, as he completed just 16 of 34 passes for 193 yards and no touchdowns. His decision-making was particularly poor on Penn State's final drive, too, as his completions stayed in bounds and kept the clock running, snuffing any chance the Lions had of winning. Grade: C-
Backs: Silas Redd was held under 100 yards for the first time in Big Ten play on Saturday after hurting his shoulder in the first half. Stephfon Green led the team with 71 yards on 17 carries, and Brandon Beachum chipped in with 36 yards on seven carries. In total, Penn State finished with 166 yards on 43 carries, good for just a 3.9 yard per carry average. We've seen more. Grade: C
Receivers: There wasn't a whole lot going on here beyond Derek Moye's four catches for 78 yards. Justin Brown and Devon Smith had three and two receptions respectively, but for minimal yardage, and Curtis Drake was a flash in the pan with one big catch for 31 yards. Drops weren't much of a problem, but that's little consolation in a loss like Saturday's. Grade: C
Offensive Line: It wasn't an entirely poor performance for this unit, but it seemed like it couldn't up holes for the run when it absolutely had to. The failed 4th-and-1 conversion late in the fourth quarter comes to mind immediately. Consistency will be a big key for this group moving forward. One and two first downs per drive isn't going to get it done on most drives. The line needs to string some together to have success against Ohio State and Wisconsin. Grade: C
Defensive Line: Nebraska did a nice job keeping Penn State's defensive front from being the disruptive force it has been much of the season. Jack Crawford had a sack and Devon Still had a tackle for loss with a forced fumble, but that was about the extent of the mayhem these guys caused. They also let the Cornhuskers' Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez shred right through them on a few key third-down-and-long situations to keep the chains moving. Again, we've seen better. Grade: C
Linebackers: Three guys from this unit were among the defense's top four tacklers, but the group failed to bring the pressure it has in recent games. It didn't produce any turnovers, either, which could have changed momentum in Penn State's favor when it desperately needed some. Grade: B
Secondary: The defensive backs limited Martinez to 143 yards passing on the afternoon, which isn't bad. He did make a few key completions over top of the defense, but most were glancing blows. Of all the units on the team, this one was by far the most consistent throughout the day. An interception would have been helpful, though. Grade: A-
Special Teams: Anthony Fera's missed field goal in the first quarter proved to be the difference in the game. Of course, it was a 47-yarder, but at this point in the schedule, those points are precious, and failing to convert was the difference between a loss and possible overtime. The return game also struggled. Grade: D