Three Penn State Players to Watch Against Buffalo

By Barry Leonard on September 5, 2019 at 8:30 am
Aug 31, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Devyn Ford (28) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Idaho Vandals at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Idaho 79-7.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Several players need to step up for Penn State against Buffalo this week.

The Nittany Lions did exactly what they had to do in Week 1 and completely dominated an FCS opponent. They turned some heads while lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 79 points. Up next is a battle under the lights of Beaver Stadium against the Buffalo Bulls. 

Although the Nittany Lions are again favored big, Buffalo, being from the MAC, should present a bit of a more competitive game than Idaho could.

Head coach James Franklin had the luxury of playing a ton of guys on opening day, and if all goes well, he'll likely get that chance again in week two. Still, there are three specific players (kind of) that Penn State fans should be especially aware of as they watch their Nittany Lions try to start 2-0.

Jordan Stout, Kicker

Kickers rarely get attention outside of when they miss a game-winning kick. Well, it's time to change that. Jordan Stout was a beast last week and looks like a valuable weapon for the Nittany Lions moving forward.

When Stout transferred to Happy Valley from Virginia Tech it was a move that didn't seem like a huge deal at the time. However, if week one was any indication, then he may be one of the bigger recruiting success stories of James Franklin's tenure at Penn State.

Stout has a monster leg, as evidenced by his 53-yard field goal and 13 touchbacks against Idaho. While being able to boot the ball out of the back of the end zone is a skill that goes largely unnoticed by fans, it makes a huge impact on the game, especially for a team that struggled mightily on kickoff coverage just a season ago. With Stout's power, don't be surprised to see him challenge double-digit touchbacks once again, and perhaps put another 50+ yard field goal through the uprights.

All hail #TouchbackJesus.

Brandon Smith, Linebacker 

The true freshman saw the field last week in his first collegiate game and finished with three total tackles, including a monster hit that immediately went viral. 

Smith entered Happy Valley with a lot of hype, and he didn't disappoint in his collegiate debut. A member of the 2018 recruiting class, he was a five-star recruit and the top linebacker in the nation.

With Penn State expected to win fairly comfortably once again, Smith should once again get a chance to show what he can do (though it is worth mentioning that the possibility exists that Smith and fellow freshman linebacker Lance Dixon flip roles a bit in order to give both of them extended time in the lineup).

The Running Backs

Ok, so this one is cheating since it's not one particular player, but the Nittany Lions showed last week that they are stacked at the running back position. Position coach Ja'Juan Seider may have the toughest job this week, as he'll have to figure out how to once again work four or five guys into the rotation.

Penn State used five running backs against Idaho and the group accounted for 242 of the 331 rushing yards racked up by the team. All five backs found the end zone.

True freshman Devyn Ford led the way with 107 yards, including a brilliant 81-yard touchdown run. Journey Brown and Noah Cain each scored twice, and walk-on Nick Eury even got into the touchdown action with a jaw-dropping score. 

Starter Ricky Slade had the least productive day of the group on the ground while receiving most of his carries while quarterback Sean Clifford familiarized himself with the offense, but he'll have a chance to get back on track this week.

As will likely be the case all season, the success of this group will determine the success of the team as a whole.

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