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Penn State Grades Vs. Alabama

Who played well and who struggled for the Nittany Lions against the Crimson Tide?

Penn State suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday against Alabama, falling 27-11 at Beaver Stadium. Today, we take a look at who played well, and who has some work to do as the Nittany Lions prepare for their first road game against Temple this Saturday in Philadelphia. 

Quarterbacks. Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin went a combined 12-39 for 144 yards and an interception. No matter what way you slice it, that's an ugly, ugly stat line. Though they were only picked off once, that number could have been a lot greater as Tide defenders came close a number of times and actually had a couple of interceptions overturned by replay. The only saving grace for the quarterbacks in this one is that their receivers dropped a number of catchable balls, but overall, it was an uninspiring day for the pair to say the least. Grade: D

Backs. After deploying a bunch of backs in the opener against Indiana State, Penn State chose to play just Brandon Beachum and Silas Redd in this one. Redd got off to a good start, snapping off a couple of key runs in Penn State's opening field goal drive, but didn't find a lot of room to run after that. Beachum never really established much of anything. The tandem finished with a combined 78 yards on 25 carries, good for only a 3.12 yard-per-carry average. In total, a very average day for the backs. Grade: C

Receivers. Penn State's receivers have now dropped a number of key passes two weeks in a row. Against Indiana State, it didn't cost them, since the running game was able to make up for what the receivers lacked. Against Alabama, the drops were too much for the running game to overcome and the Lions' offense came apart as a result. The wideouts did make some grabs at the end of the game to make things look better on the stat sheet, but they simply could not make any plays while the game was still in question. This made Penn State's offense one-dimensional. Grade: D

Offensive line. Make no mistake, this was not a great performance for the offensive line, but there was pretty clear improvement over the effort against Indiana State. Though the quarterbacks didn't take advantage of it, they were given time to throw by their linemen, and while Alabama had to respect the pass, the line was able to find holes for running back Silas Redd until the Tide started to play up once the Lions failed to establish a passing game. It also had to cope with an injury to Chima Okoli that should be taken into consideration. Grade: C+

Defensive line. Jordan Hill and Devon Still both had nice days at defensive tackle, racking up eight and seven tackles, respectively. Still blew up Alabama running back Trent Richardson in the backfield impressively on one play and Hill was active much of the day. On the ends, Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford combined to deflect four passes. As a unit, this was not a bad performance for these guys. Grade: B

Linebackers. Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Glenn Carson all posted double figures in tackles on Saturday, a product of playing a lot of snaps thanks to the offense's struggles. Richardson found some room to run against these guys, and Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron hit some passes over them as well, but again, considering the number of downs they were forced to defend, that's not really so surprising. Grade: B-

Secondary. This unit played fairly well, although McCarron was able to hit passes when he absolutely needed them. Again, part of this is a product of playing a lot of snaps as a result of the offense's ineptitude, but then again, the unit got a lot of opportunities to force a turnover or two and failed. Grade: C+

Special teams. After struggling last week, kicker Evan Lewis came back to drill a 43-yard field goal that gave Penn State its only lead early on. Anthony Fera returned from suspension and punted fairly well, too. It was not a great day in the return game, though. There was little to no room for returners to go, especially on kickoff, and that left the Lions with long fields to cover much of the day. Grade: B

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