EMU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly as Penn State clobbered Eastern Michigan in the 2013 home opener.

The Penn State offense took a while to get cranking against Eastern Michigan at Beaver Stadium Saturday. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, their defense was so strong it really didn't matter.

PSU held the Eagles to 11 first downs -- four in the final three quarters -- and 183 total yards in a 45-7 blowout. EMU's only points came on a fumble return, meaning the Lion defense actually pitched a shutout.

That said, there were plenty of stars on both sides of the ball for Penn State. Which makes this week's game breakdown kind of tricky.

MAN OF THE HOUR: DT DaQuan Jones was in beast mode again, with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. There may not be a more improved player in the country.

CLOSE SECOND: WR Allen Robinson continued to toy with opponents. He had seven catches for 129 yards and a score. One got the sense PSU coach Bill O'Brien could have gotten Robinson at least twice as many grabs, but instead wisely chose to have rookie QB Christian Hackenberg spread the wealth. Ten different Lions caught passes.

CLOSE THIRD: LB Glenn Carson had 10 tackles and half a sack. With injuries hurting the position, Carson manned up and logged a ton of snaps.

TURNING POINT: EMU took an early 7-0 lead when LB Matt Hunter returned a Hackenberg fumble 11 yards for a score. Penn State responded with a 6-play, 67-yard scoring drive, during which Robinson made a spectacular 43-yard catch. It was evident there and then that, had it been needed, Robinson could have bailed PSU out of any trouble.

SOLID STRATEGY: O'Brien stuck with Hackenberg even though the true freshman was clearly a little too amped while making his first start at Beaver Stadium. It paid off. Hackenberg was 3 of 7 for 57 yards in the first quarter, and also had the ball slip out of his hand on the fumble that led to an EMU score. He finished 23 of 33 for a school freshman record 311 yards, one TD and one interception.

NUMBERS GAME: Reserve RBs Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch each rushed for 108 yards. Belton also had two scores on his nine carries and caught a 21-yard pass. Lynch carried 13 times and had one touchdown in his first college action at RB.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: WR Brandon Felder has become the other go-to guy for Hackenberg. This week, he caught six passes for 56 yards.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Sam Ficken hit a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter, his school-record 14th in a row.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• Penn State's third-down offense. The Lions were 1 for 10 on third downs in this game and are now 2 for 26 in such situations on the season. Interestingly, PSU is 4 of 4 on fourth downs.

• The offensive line struggling through the first three quarters. Entering the final stanza, PSU backs were averaging 3.5 yards per carry. The line also allowed four sacks. The unit deserves kudos for whipping the Eagles in the fourth quarter, though.

• Penn State killing itself with penalties. The Lions opened the game with a long run by RB Zach Zwinak only to see it wiped out by a holding call. State was flagged five times for 46 yards, including a rarely seen offensive pass interference call.

• Such a small crowd for the home opener. It was listed at 92,363 but our guess was the actual number was about 10,000 less than that.

HIT SQUAD: S Adrian Amos gave up some short passes but was hammering the receiver every time.

HIDDEN HERO: When starting holder Ryan Keiser was “dinged” on kickoff coverage, P Alex Butterworth took over as the holder on placements. Ficken made his only field goal attempt and was perfect on six PATs.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: LB Nyeem Wartman had six tackles and batted down … count 'em … three passes.

DID YOU NOTICE?

• Starting OLB Mike Hull was in street clothes due to a knee injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, who made three tackles.

Garry Gilliam made his second straight start at RT, ahead of Adam Gress. But Gress saw action with the first team.

• Penn State subbed frequently on the O-line, with Eric Shrive and Angelo Mangiro both rotating in at guard.

• Freshman CB Anthony Smith replaced starting Carson as State's long snapper for punts. He seemed to do a good job.

Eugene Lewis and Von Walker took over on kickoff returns. Lewis had two returns for 44 yards, with a long of 25. Walker did not get a kick return chance.

• True freshman LB Brandon Bell saw his first action of the season in the second half. He made two stops.

• Backup QB Tyler Ferguson saw action in the fourth quarter, connecting on 2 of 2 passes for 12 yards.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can the Penn State defense continue to dominate against a UCF offense that is averaging 38 points per game?


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