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Penn State Grades Vs. Purdue

Who played well against the Boilermakers, and who still has some work to do for the Nittany Lions?

Penn State improved to 6-1 on the season and 3-0 in the Big Ten Leaders Division on Saturday with a 23-18 victory against Purdue 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 Northwestern for a prime time matchup this weekend.

Quarterbacks: Both Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin had their moments, but overall, it was a rough performance for the pair. On the day, Bolden and McGloin combined for just 185 yards and an interception on 10-23 passing. The interception, thrown by McGloin, was bad, too, a wounded duck thrown into coverage down near the end zone as Penn State was looking to go up by at least two scores at the time. As the Lions' schedule starts to get tougher this coming week at Northwestern, these two are still leaving a lot to be desired. Grade: D

Backs: It's fair to wonder where the Penn State offense would be at this point without Silas Redd. The sophomore running back turned in his third straight 100-yard performance on Saturday, racking up 131 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries to lead an otherwise anemic offense. Curtis Dukes contributed 21 yards and a touchdown on six carries and fullbacks Michael Zordich and Joe Suhey were active in the passing game, combining for 25 yards on two receptions. Grade: A-

Wide Receivers: With the wind blowing, the quarterbacks struggling, and Derek Moye missing, the receivers did about as well as could have been expected against the Boilermakers. Brandon Moseby-Felder stepped in nicely for Moye, catching two big passes on Penn State's first touchdown drive to set up the score. Justin Brown's four catches for 86 yards were big, too. And poor, poor Devon Smith still managed to finish with 34 yards on two receptions, despite a number of passes thrown his way missing him by a mile. Grade: B+

Offensive Line: The group did open up some holes for Redd and gave the quarterbacks sufficient time to throw, but wasn't able to get a push when it needed one toward the end of the game. With Penn State up just five points, the offense got the ball back with under five minutes to play. Redd picked up a first down on the first play of the series, but the next three plays, all runs, combined to fall short of the sticks and the Lions had to punt, giving Purdue another shot. This is the kind of stuff that has great potential to bite the Lions as their opponents get better down the stretch. Grade: C

Defensive Line: After six solid games to open the season, this unit came back to earth a bit on Saturday. The Boilermakers racked up 162 yards on the ground running right at the heart of the Penn State defense, where Devon Still and Jordan Hill are usually terrors on the line. Sean Stanley did pick up a sack, but we've seen better from these guys. Grade: B-

Linebackers: Like the defensive line, this group could have done better in run defense, but it came up with more than enough big plays to make up for it. Nathan Stupar picked off two passes on the day while Gerald Hodges had eight tackles, including three for loss to lead the defense in both categories. Khairi Fortt also came up with a big play, stopping Purdue's Caleb TerBush on a two-point conversion as the Boilermakers looked to tie the score at 20 early in the fourth quarter. Grade: A-

Secondary: A 50-yard completion from TerBush to Justin Siler will go down as a black mark for a secondary welcoming D'Anton Lynn back to the mix on Saturday, but beyond that, this unit played pretty well. Drew Astorino had eight tackles while Lynn had seven and Nick Sukay came up with his team-leading third interception in limiting the Boilermakers to 132 yards save for that big catch and run early. Grade: B+

Special Teams: Anthony Fera is becoming a one-man wrecking crew at punter and place kicker. He made sure the Lions got points on three drives by converting a trio of field goals and he crushed a 69-yard punt late in the game that pinned Purdue hopelessly against its goal line on its final drive. Chaz Powell also contributed with an electrifying 93-yard punt return in the final quarter to set up one of Fera's field goals. Grade: A

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.