Grading The 'Cats

The Wildcats' losing streak has reached five after losing to Penn State. PurpleWildcats.com hands out the grades after the game.

Quarterbacks: B

Both Dan Persa and Kain Colter were unstoppable to start the game, making plays through the air and on the ground.

When the offense clicks, this has become one of the best quarterback duos in college football. However, the offense has yet to click for an entire game.

After a tipped interception by Persa early in the third quarter, the NU quarterbacks started to struggle. They had good moments, but couldn't convert in the clutch. Persa was injured after driving deep into Penn State territory and Colter followed up with two straight sacks.

Instead of cutting the Nittany Lions' lead to a score, the Wildcats were forced to punt. That can't happen with a defense and an offensive supporting cast that are extremely inconsistent.

Running Backs: D

After showing life earlier in the season, the running backs were nearly absent from this game, with Jacob Schmidt and Treyvon Green combining for 14 carries and 36 yards rushing.

The loss of Mike Trumpy is beginning to hurt and the fact that Adonis Smith didn't play due to being "dinged up" in practice also hurts.

However, Schmidt is very experienced and Green may have the most talent out of the group. Green was held to an abysmal 1.4 yards per carry.

Colter and Persa each had more carries and yards than either running back. You can't win football games with those numbers.

Wide Receivers: C

For the most part the NU receivers did a good job of getting yards in the short passing game, but drops continued to plague the unit and the offense as a whole.

The receivers had a number of big fourth quarter drops with the offense driving, including one from Jeremy Ebert that would have been a touchdown. Instead, two sacks forced the Cats out of field goal range and ended their chances of moving within one score.

Ebert and the other seniors have to make those big plays to get wins against good defenses, and this group of veterans hasn't answered the call in Big Ten games this season.

Offensive Line: C-

For a unit that was supposed to be one of the most experienced on this squad coming into the season, the offensive line has greatly underachieved.

Penn State had seven sacks and Persa was sacked four times, rarely with enough time to look downfield.

Part of the running game's struggles was due to the lack of blocking up front as well.

This experienced group needs to step up for the NU offense or else the rest of the season could follow the same script, with the good defensive lines of Michigan State and Nebraska to come.

Defensive Line: C

There were a couple of big stops on third down and one sack of Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, but the Nittany Lions had way too long to throw all game.

The PSU passing offense is one of the worst in the Big Ten, but since McGloin had very little pressure, he was able to get his confidence up and make some big throws.

Penn State running back Silas Redd had 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in the first half.

Linebackers: C

Despite contributing in some third down stops, the linebackers were largely irrelevant tonight and missed a number of tackles.

The unit struggled against Redd when he reached the second level and allowed for some runs to go for big gains.

The NU defense has been prone to big plays this year and a lot of that is on the linebackers.

Secondary: F

Matt McGloin is not a very good quarterback.

There's a reason why he continues to alternate with Rob Bolden and hasn't been able to claim the starting job in Penn State's year-and-a-half long quarterback battle.

However, he looked outstanding against the Northwestern secondary and was able to get comfortable. He threw for 192 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Devon Smith.

Penn State's offense isn't built to put up that kind of passing numbers, which shows just how bad Northwestern's pass defense is.

Special Teams: B

The bright spot of the day was recovering a Penn State fumble on the opening kickoff, but the special teams were in no way impressive.

Punter Brandon Williams seems to punt the ball far when he shouldn't and short when he needs to kick it far. In the kicking game Jeff Budzien was fine, putting through a 25-yard chip shot.

The kick coverage was very suspect, as Penn State broke out on a number of returns, especially early on, and Northwestern's return team struggled today, one week after Venric Mark performed well against Iowa.


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