ILLINOIS: The High Five

Despite some lulls in their performance, the Nittany Lions systemmatically dismantled Illinois en route to a 35-7 road victory to open Big Ten play. See the highs and lows from the win here.

Penn State had several highs and a few lows in their 35-7 road victory over Illinois. On the day the squad all but dismanteled the Illini despite some lulls and periods of lackluster play.

Here's a look at this highs and lows from the victory:

The High Five

Capitalization: Penn State took advantage of a variety of Illinois miscues - a muffed punt, some penatlies - to jump out to an early 14-0 lead. The Lions never looked back and the game was never in any serious doubt thanks to their early pounce.

Power Lines: All-in-all PSU controlled the trenches on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side of things they gavee Matt McGloin a ton of time to make decisions despite not always having the signal-caller use the opportunity effectively (more on that later). On the day the OL blocked for 384 total yards. The defensive bottled up Nathan Scheelhaase to a mere seven yards on 11 carries and punished the QB all day.

ZZ Tops: Many PSU fans have been calling for Zach Zwinak to get a load to carry and the coaches finally gave him the bulk of ground game runs with 19 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Zwinak adds another dimension of size with a burst and has shown he can not only hit a lane, but drag defenders for additional yardage.

Mauti Gras: It was a party for Michael Mauti as he was a force on defense, grabbing two interceptions and making plays all over the field.

Turn It Over: The defense continued their trend of creating turnovers, grabbing three on the day, while the offense continued to protect the ball, with no turnovers of their own. in fact the defense has produced eight turnovers on the season andthe offense has given up four.

Bonus Highs

'Nois Control: It had to be a sweet victory for the PSU program despite their politically correct responses that they were past the off-season conflict. Any way you slice it, Illinois was flat out disrespectful to Penn State and Bill O'Brien with their headhunter approach to the santions open season, so the win had to be extra sweet.

Lehman Brother: How about TE Matt Lehman. Going into the game he had four catches for 67 yards and a TD on the year. Against Illinois he ended up with five receptions for 70 yards and a TD. He's developing into a nice weapon for the offense.

The Low Five

Blind Drive: While given all day to throw Matt McGloin simply did not see the field well early on and made some poor decisions and tossed aside his keys on fundamentals - stepping into passes, following-through his delivery. He managed to go 18 for 30 (60%) for 211 yards and one passing touchdown along with two more on the ground - certainly not a bad day, but he wasn't all-in-all sharp as he has been earlier this season.

Kicking Themselves: Sure, Sam Ficken went five for five on extra points, but zero for two on field goals reminded Nittany Nation of the sad state of kicking affairs this season.

Lulled to Sleep: The game was never in doubt, but after going up 14-0 the Lions had a prolonged spell of bored play. The squad seemed uninspired and almost content with the lead. They can thanks the ineptness of Illinois as a gating factor to them getting back into the game, but the team cannot get into lulls as the competition gets stiffer down the road.

Over-played: Some of the play-calling, particularly on third down showed flashes on the previous staff, particularly the slow-developing end-arounds or swing passes. Once they focused on the run or the NASCAR set the offense managed to find it's groove. But the play-calling early on helped to snuf out some drives.

Spread Thin: It's probably nitpicking, but the offense did not spread the ball around as much in the passing game, hitting only five targets on the day. Granted McGloin passed 18 balls, but in previous games more receivers got into the action. Again, a tough point to belabor with this type of road win.


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