Michigan proved to be too much for Penn State as the Nittany Lions fell to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor 49-10. To say it was a long day for the Blue and White is an understatement as PSU saw more lows than highs in this contest. We take a look at both here.
THE LOW FIVE
Slow Start: The Lions could not have had a poorer start to this game with a holding penalty on the opening kickoff and a pair of sacks on the first drive. It set an early tone that saw PSU struggle on both sides of the ball.
Wrap Up: We've discussed previously how Penn State's poor tackling would become more apparent as the squad entered Big Ten play. This was apparent today as the fundamental inability to wrap up saw large yardage picks for U-M, particularly on third down.
Coughing Fit: While not a major factor in this game, Penn State's turnover issues continued today with a lost fumble and interception. The Lions continue to lead the conference in turnovers, which needs to be addressed in short order.
Buried: The line play on both sides of the ball was largely dominated by Michigan with their offensive line opening up significant holes for their ground game and their defensive line getting disruptive penetration into the pocket. PSU's OL gave up six sacks, losing 27 yards. This was instrumental in PSU's consistent struggles.
Unanswered Call: Offensive play-calling continues to be a major weak point for the offense, and it's baffling why the coaches continue to embrace the read-option, which more often than not puts drives in a hole.
Blind Side: The Big Ten officiating crew didn't help their reputation much, ejecting PSU linebacker Brandon Smith for targeting. While it was quick play for the official, it was shocking to see the penalty upheld on review. Former NFL Officiating Vice President agreed, tweeting that the contact was incidental
THE HIGH FIVE
Big Bark: While it was far from a banner day for Saquon Barkley, you gotta love the fight he continually showed in this game, griding out every yard he could even when the game was well in hand. On the day he had 59 yards on 15 carries and five receptions for 77 yards.
Big Boot: Blake Gillikin continues to show he's weapon on special teams for PSU. While not a sexy aspect of the game, his first punt of 61-yards from his end zone was a major factor for PSU. On the day he had six punts for 270 yards (45 yard average).
Clean Play: Penn State put only two penalties for 13 yards compared to Michigan's seven penalties for 80 yards. Granted one of those was a major one from the outset with the holding penalty on the opening kickoff, but it's a relative positive for the squad.
Fight On State: Sure, it's getting old to hear, but the squad didn't quit on this one despite it being well out of reach. That doesn't help ease the widespread issues the unit has with basic fundamentals like tackling and play-calling, but if the players gave up it would be that much worse.
Yo Joe: How fun is it watching kicker Joey Julius destroy ball returners? The Lions may need to get him ready to fill in on the defensive front seven given the depth issues they have around the unit.