Buffalo: The High Five

Penn State experienced a roller-coaster of a game on Saturday against Buffalo. See what the brightest spots were and which dim areas need improvement heading into conference play next week.

High Points

Rodney Kinlaw: It was a self-best performance for Kinlaw, who seized the opportunity to lead the ground game after Scott struggled out of the gate. Kinlaw was sharp and decisive on his runs and showed a renewed ability to run inside and out on his way to 129 yards on 23 carries (5.6 YPC). The question is whether he can do it against a formidable defense.

Linebackers: Dan Connor and Sean Lee put on a tackling clinic on Saturday, with both 'backers rolling up double-digit take-downs and showing impressive technique and pure explosiveness in blitzing situations. Tyrell Sales and Navorro Bowman had some streaks of success as well.

Andrew Quarless: Welcome back. And what a return it was for the tight end who had not seen playing time since the Outback Bowl in January. Quarless did not disappoint, catching two balls, which were both touchdowns for 25 yards. Quarless demands a lot of attention and changed the entire dynamic of the offense when he stepped on the field.

Defensive Ends: The ends, particularly Maurice Evans, Jerome Hayes and Aaron Maybin, applied some vice-like pressure on Willy and clogged up lanes for Starks. Fast and furious, the breakdowns they created were instrumental in taking the pressure off the secondary in the first half.

Anthony Scirroto: We'll talk about the punt return issues, but there are few Nittany Lions who have mastered the tip-drill like Scirrotto has. Against Buffalo he pulled in two significant interceptions, which made up for some mental lapses in the punt return game.

Low Points

Play-calling: Penn State is notorious for playing things close to the vest before a big game, but the "dink, dunk" game-plan of bubble-screen and swing passes gave the Bulls a lot of opportunity to snuff out early drives. When things got tight the staff brought in Quarless and opened things up a bit with big passes to Quarless, Terrell Golden, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler, among others.

Justin King: Surprisingly, Buffalo went right at Justin King and found more success than Nittany Lion fans would like. King seemed to have lapses with the his hand technique and tackling fundamentals. Maybe the lack of game tests has him rusty?

Austin Scott: Oh boy, for the second game in so many weeks, Scott has an early crucial fumble. If that wasn't enough he followed it up on the next drive and coughed it up again, resulting in two fumbles on three carries for no net yards. Granted he had a 40-yard touchdown run late in the game, but proving you can do it late in the game when a team is down is one thing. Doing it out of the gate is another.

Punt Returns: Both Scirrotto and Derrick Williams let key punts go early on, resulting in PSU starting their first three drives inside the 10-yard line. Larry Johnson Sr. was in Scirrotto's ear after he let the second punt go, but they need to regroup on the strategy here and understand when they should let it go and when they should catch it.

Anthony Morelli's Consistency: At the end of the day Morelli's numbers did not look bad (20 for 27 for 203 yards and four touchdowns), after all it was the first time a PSU QB had passed for four touchdowns since Michael Robinson did it against Illinois in 2005. However, having said that, Morelli was tossing balls well over his receivers' heads and behind their backs at times (case in point, the miraculous Norwood TD catch). He needs to settle down and focus on getting his passes to the point where they have second-nature consistency.

Stay tuned to FOS for continuing post-game features, update and analysis.


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