AKRON: Game Breakdown

Mark Brennan takes a look at the good, the bad and the ugly in State's win over the Zips. See who played well, who struggled and what was happening behind the scenes at Beaver Stadium.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Anthony Morelli was strong in his debut as Penn State's starting QB, connecting on 16 of 32 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Great numbers considering the miserable playing conditions.

TURNING POINT: We're tempted to say Morelli's first pass: a 42-yard TD bomb to Deon Butler. Instead, we'll go with the play another first-time starter made. Safety Anthony Scirrotto's interception of Zip Luke Getsy on the first play of the final quarter ended any doubt about the outcome.

SOLID STRATEGY: Penn State had trouble running the ball most of the day. But the staff did not force things, allowing Morelli and his athletic receivers to take what the Zips were giving.

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State averaged 2.8 yards per carry. That'll work against Akron, but not against Notre Dame this week.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Penn State opened in what seemed to be a 3-4, with linebackers Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Tim Shaw and Sean Lee all on the field. But Shaw said afterward he was effectively a stand-up defensive end. Shaw also said true freshman Maurice Evans is behind him on the depth chart at the position.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: True freshman A.J. Wallace had a pair of kickoff returns for 95 yards. Though he fumbled his first try after a 41-yard gain, the kid has the look of a game-breaker.

WHAT'S UP WITH: All of the special teams' mistakes? Sure this was the opener, but the Lions blew a fake field goal, fumbled the snap on another one, fumbled a kickoff return, had another kickoff go out of bounds and roughed the punter. Better tighten up this area and fast.

HIT SQUAD: Connor had several strong hits, including a de-cleater of tight end Merce Poindexter in the first half. Also see “Lost In The Shuffle” below, too.

HEADS-UP: Punt snapper Joe Cianciolo sprinted downfield and recovered Andre Jones' fumble in the second quarter. Good hustle play.

HIDDEN HERO: Fullback Matt Hahn, filling in for suspended BranDon Snow, crushed DB Reggie Corner on Tony Hunt's fourth-quarter TD.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Senior safety Donnie Johnson had solid outing in his first start, making eight tackles, two of them behind the line.


• Redshirt freshman Daryll Clark spelled Morelli in mop-up time.

• Five true freshmen played: Wallace, fellow receiver Chris Bell and tight end Andrew Quarless on offense; and Evans and fellow end Jared Odrick on defense.

• Backup RB Austin Scott dressed but did not play.

• Projected starting tight end Patrick Hall dressed but did not play. He was reportedly suspended for a disciplinary violation.

• Elijah Robinson changed numbers (from 95 to 55) and positions (from defensive tackle to offensive guard).

• The staff did a lot of shuffling trying to find an answer at the guard positions. Gerald Cadogan and Greg Harrison both played significantly on the left side, and Robert Price and Rich Ohrnberger played on the right side. All had their hands full on run blocking.

• Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Antonio Logan-El, who missed some practice in the preseason due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue, dressed for the game but did not play. Sources say the issue has been resolved.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can the Nittany Lions tighten things up all around before heading to South Bend this week?


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