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Penn State Grades Vs. Eastern Michigan

Penn State moved to 3-1 on the season Saturday with a 34-6 victory against Eastern Michigan 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 open Big Ten play this coming weekend at Indiana.

Quarterbacks - It was unquestionably the best effort of the season for the Lions' quarterback duo of Matthew McGloin and Rob Bolden on Saturday against the Eagles. Bolden got the start and finished 7-for-13 for 115 yards and a touchdown while McGloin had a huge day, completing 14 of 17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. It was only Eastern Michigan, but after the struggles of the first two weeks, you have to be at least a little encouraged moving into conference play if you're a Penn State fan. Grade: A

Backs: With Brandon Beachum injured and Stephfon Green suspended, starter Silas Redd was the only guy to see significant time in Penn State's backfield, finishing with 48 yards on 12 carries. Obviously, the numbers aren't so hot, but the Eagles did force Penn State to show it could pass by running a lot of eight and nine-guy-in-the box sets, so it's not altogether surprising Redd didn't have a huge day. Still, there's room for him to improved heading into the Indiana game. Also of note here, Joe Suhey had a 27-yard touchdown catch. Grade: C

Wide Receivers: Nevermind the multitude of big plays this group made on Saturday, the wide receivers showed progress simply by limiting their drops, something that plagued them in their first few games. If numbers are your thing, though, there are plenty to see here. Derek Moye finished with 65 yards and two touchdowns on six catches, and Devon Smith had a huge day after a quiet start to the season, taking a pass from Bolden 71 yards to the house early in the third quarter. He finished with 104 yards on the day, good for his first ever 100-yard receiving game. Shawney Kersey made a big 41-yard catch on the day, Justin Brown came up with three catches, and even Curtis Drake got into the acting coming off an injury, catching a 17-yard ball in the first half. Grade: A

Offensive line: This group did a nice job of pass blocking, but also had a hard time opening up many holes for Redd and the running game. Some of that had to do with Eastern Michigan stacking the box, but against a MAC team like the Eagles, more is expected. There were also three false start penalties and a fumbled snap that fell on these guys, so that's not good. Very average day all around for this unit. Grade: C

Defensive line: Penn State got another big effort from this group on Saturday. Devon Still, Jack Crawford and Jordan Hill each registered five tackles on the afternoon. Still had 2.5 tackles for loss and Jack Crawford had a sack with a fumble recovery off a fumble forced by fellow defensive lineman Eric Latimore. This unit is really becoming a disruptive force and strength for the defense. Grade: A

Linebackers: With Michael Mauti likely out for the season with a torn ACL, it's hard to spin this as a good day for the linebacking corps. It did show signs it can move on without the outside backer, though, as Nathan Stupar came on strong as a replacement with seven tackles to lead the team. He also registered a sack. Khairi Fortt quietly had a big day, finishing with six tackles and Michael Hull and Glenn Carson had five each. Carson also recovered a fumble. The loss of Mauti will cast a shadow on the performance, but it was a solid day for this group, as it helped hold the Eagles to just 68 rushing yards. Grade: B

Secondary: This group was dinged for a couple of big passes on the day as the Eagles threw for 202 yards on the day. Nick Sukay did manage to come up with an interception and the defensive backs did come up with some big plays when they needed them, but this was not their best effort. Grade: B-

Special teams: In the context of the disaster last week against Temple in which the unit missed two field goals and had a punt and field goal blocked, Saturday was a pretty solid day for the group. Sam Ficken and Anthony Fera each notched field goals as the struggling Evan Lewis was relegated to the bench. Fera also had a nice day punting the ball, finished with a 51.7 yard average on three kicks. Not much to write home about in the return game, though, which brings the unit score down a little. Grade: B-

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