Purdue Snap Counts: Cain's Team Increasing, Five True Freshman Debuts, and More

By Dan Smith on October 7, 2019 at 10:38 am
Oct 5, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Noah Cain (21) runs the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Five true freshmen saw their first playing time late in Penn State's 35-7 win over Purdue. On offense, wide receivers John Dunmore and T.J. Jones got on the field for the first time. Defensively, defensive lineman Hakeem Beamon, cornerback Daequan Hardy, and safety Tyler Rudolph also briefly appeared, though a forced fumble left them with just two snaps apiece. We will cover that a bit more in depth later this week for the Redshirt Watch feature. In the meantime, let's take a look at the playing time distribution.

Offense (78 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
QB Sean Clifford (71) Will Levis (7)  
RB Noah Cain (30) Ricky Slade (21) Journey Brown (19) / Devyn Ford (12)
WR Jahan Dotson (73) John Dunmore (5)  
WR Daniel George (41) Dan Chisena (23) T.J. Jones (5)
WR K.J. Hamler (59) Mac Hippenhammer (5) Isaac Lutz (5)
TE Pat Freiermuth (62) Nick Bowers (25) Zack Kuntz (5)
LT Rasheed Walker (57) Des Holmes (21)  
LG Steven Gonzalez (71) Bryce Effner (7)  
C Michal Menet (71) Mike Miranda (7)  
RG Mike Miranda (53) C.J. Thorpe (25)  
RT Will Fries (71) Des Holmes (7)  
  • Debuts: WR Dunmore, WR Jones
  • George and Chisena Fill Hole Left by Shorter: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Shorter was knocked out of the Maryland game after receiving a blow to the head on a targeting foul. He did not play against Purdue as a result. His snaps went to a combination of George and Chisena. Cam Sullivan-Brown did not play in this game, and Hippenhammer saw very limited time in the slot even with Hamler getting shaken up at one point. The staff seems to prefer two-tight end and two-running back sets when Hamler is off the field.
  • Cain Seeing Playing Time Bump: The carries are still being spread out, but Cain is definitely rising in the ranks as time goes on. Slade is still valued as a pass catcher (he lined up as a receiver a couple of times), and Brown is the nominal starter, but Cain is getting the most run out of the backfield.
  • Miranda Well Ahead of Thorpe Again: It had seemed last week that Thorpe was eating into more of Miranda's snaps, but we are back to seeing him as a clear second unit player along with Holmes at tackle.

Defense (58 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
DE Shaka Toney (36) Adisa Isaac (14) Shane Simmons (11)
DT Robert Windsor (37) Fred Hansard (10) Judge Culpepper (10) / Hakeem Beamon (2)
DT P.J. Mustipher (25) Antonio Shelton (18) Damion Barber (6) / Yetur Gross-Matos (4)
DE Yetur Gross-Matos (30) Jayson Oweh (14) Daniel Joseph (11)
OLB Micah Parsons (42) Jesse Luketa (11) Charlie Katshir (5)
MLB Jan Johnson (24) Ellis Brooks (15) Max Chizmar (2)
OLB Cam Brown (39) Brandon Smith (11)  
CB John Reid (53) Joey Porter Jr. (10) Tariq Castro-Fields (6) / D.J. Brown (2)
S Lamont Wade (47) Jaquan Brisker (34) Tyler Rudolph (2)
S Garrett Taylor (42) Jonathan Sutherland (14) Drew Hartlaub (2)
CB Trent Gordon (27) Keaton Ellis (12) Marquis Wilson (8) / Daequan Hardy (2)
  • Debuts: DT Beamon, CB Hardy, S Rudolph
  • Castro-Fields Injury Means Heavy Freshman Presence: Castro-Fields is officially an injury concern, after missing the bulk of the last two games. That compounds the complications at corner with Donovan Johnson still recovering from the injury he suffered against Pitt. Reid is holding it down on one half of the field, and Wade's increased role as slot corner has reduced the amount of things Reid is being asked to do, but the rest of the position is being left to five freshmen. Gordon, as a redshirt freshman, is the most experienced, and early enrollee Ellis is at the top of the list among the true freshmen. It seems now that Porter Jr. will definitely burn his redshirt, and Wilson has now played two games in a row. How long Castro-Fields is out will likely determine how much they will lean on Porter and Wilson.
  • Three-And-Outs Mean Less Rotating: The defense is performing at a high level, and consequently the reserve players are not seeing as much playing time. Less rest is required for the starters, and short drives mean no mid-drive rotating. One of the consequences of playing at a high level like this is less opportunities for the backups.
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