3 Key Takeaways: Penn State Triumphs Over App State

By Nick Polak on September 1, 2018 at 7:45 pm
Sep 1, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) drops back in the pocket during the second quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, but Penn State was able to sneak by an impressive Appalachian State team in week one. It took an overtime period, but Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders were able to lead their team to victory when all was said and done. Here are our takeaways from the game.

1. Trace McSorley didn't really have...anyone to throw to downfield for much of the day.

The line wasn't great and didn't give McSorley a ton of time to throw for a good portion of the afternoon, but it appeared that Penn State's receivers and tight ends weren't really doing much to get open anyway.

The most disappointing part of the lack of downfield presence was Juwan Johnson's quiet game. The big wide receiver entered the season with aspirations of being a potential first-round NFL draft pick but just didn't have it on Saturday. Numerous dropped passes soiled what could have been a big day for Johnson and a bigger day for McSorley.

2. The defense really struggled to wrap up ball carriers.

Going into the game, one of the biggest worries for this Penn State defense was whether or not they were going to be able to contain Jalin Moore and the App State run game. The Mountaineers ended the day with 159 yards on the ground, but it seemed like even more given the gravity of the situations in which they picked up many of those yards.

Specifically, the interior of the defense was in question as we approached the season opener. Saturday's game did little to inspire confidence in the defensive tackles, Jan Johnson at middle linebacker, or the safeties as run stoppers. Though the team was without presumed starter Kevin Givens.

Additionally, the cornerbacks didn't do a great job protecting the boundaries. They had more issues than just their tackling ability, but there were many times when they could have been the ones to step up and make a play outside the hashes and failed to do so.

3. It's only week one, fam.

Were there things that need to be cleaned up? Absolutely. Were there positives to take away? Absolutely. Just remember that it was week one. It's been some time since Penn State has played a real team in week one, and App State is very much a real team. The Mountaineers have a very good chance to win the Sun Belt in 2018.

This is a fairly inexperienced Penn State team with a lot of new starters and a ton of new backups. It was never going to be exactly the same as it was last year with the amount of turnover they were set to endure. That doesn't mean that this team can't still accomplish its lofty goals, including Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berths, just that they still have some growing to do before they get to that point.

All in all, just relax. The game is over, and the Lions walked away with a win. That's more than many teams can say after week one.

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