September 10, 2012 at 9:11 AM
Penn State Offensive Grades
Quarterbacks — B+
Despite the team's second straight loss, Matt McGloin orchestrated the offense well once again. Completing 19 of his 35 passes for 197 yards, the fifth-year senior certainly gave Penn State a chance to win. In McGloin’s absence in the second and third quarters, true freshman Steven Bench did not start his career with an outstanding showing, but he did lead a 50-yard drive to end the half that put the Nittany Lions into field goal range. All in all, McGloin battled through an elbow injury to produce a respectable game, one which featured a 30-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson. And despite all the missed opportunities throughout the game, McGloin even put the Lions in position to win the game on the team’s last drive of the game, setting up a Sam Ficken field goal with one second left. However, the inability to punch the ball into the endzone more than twice — considering eight drives went past the Virginia 30-yard line — prevented the Lion quarterbacks from acing this game.
Running backs — C-
Penn State’s running back corps faced a tall task on Saturday. Derek Day started his first career game in place of Bill Belton and carried much of the load, but totaled just 49 yards on 18 carries. Curtis Dukes saw his first action of the season and displayed spurts of the force he ran with last season, running for 31 yards. Shouldering 42 of the Lions’ offensive plays, the running game provided more of a balance to the Penn State attack. However, other than a 17-yard catch and run from Day, the running backs failed to break loose for any big plays, and ultimately averaged just 2.7 yards per carry.
Wide receivers — B-
Allen Robinson led the Lions with 10 catches for 89 yards, including the aforementioned 30-yard bomb from McGloin that required the receiver to make an incredible, fully-extended catch. Alex Kenney was the next most productive receiver for the Lions, contributing 50 yards on three catches. But, Robinson had multiple drops, with one being a potential touchdown pass from Bench at the end of the first half. Robinson admitted in his postgame interview his drops may have changed the outcome of the game. And, if Robinson wants to be a successful number one option, these are balls he’s going to have to start coming down with.
Tight ends — B+
After an impressive season opener in which they caught seven balls for 88 yards and a touchdown, the tight ends once again played a prominent role in the team’s vertical game. Matt Lehman extended the team’s dominant opening drive by making a catch for a first down on the team’s first 3rd-down of the game. Also, Kyle Carter finished with 33 yards and caught his first career touchdown to cap this drive and give the Lions an early 7-0 lead.
Offensive line — C
The Nittany Lion offensive line only gave up two sacks on Saturday, but McGloin was seemingly knocked down almost every other play. McGloin’s body guards offered him large amounts of daylight from time to time, but, more often than not, he was allowed only enough time to throw to his first option. Furthermore, the line wasn’t opening up many holes for the running attack, which averaged about three yards per carry.
Special teams — F+
Leaving 13 points on the board is an incredible blunder, especially in what turned out to be a one-point game. Thus was the case for Sam Ficken, who went 1-for-5 on field goals against Virginia, including a missed 42-yarder that would have won the game for the Lions as time expired. It seems unnecessary to harp on Ficken’s terrible outing, but his performance was the difference in the game, regardless of what players and coaches say. Despite Ficken’s poor day, other facets of special teams actually improved on Saturday, such as Alex Butterworth (who averaged over 42 yards per punt) and the punt coverage squad as well (Mauti nearly tore the Cavlier return man’s head off with a vicious hit in the fourth quarter).