Ohio State Snap Counts: Levis, Mustipher, and Wilson Step Up to Keep Penn State in Game

By Dan Smith on November 26, 2019 at 10:00 am
Nov 23, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Will Levis (7) tries to evade Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (33) in the second half at Ohio Stadium.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State defeated Penn State in a bizarre game that featured the heavily favored home team fumbling the ball four times, the road underdogs losing their starting quarterback, and the backup quarterback leading the Nittany Lions back into the game. It also saw some surprising playing time developments.

Offense (64 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
QB Will Levis (35) Sean Clifford (29)  
RB Journey Brown (51) Noah Cain (13)  
WR Jahan Dotson (64)    
WR Justin Shorter (37) Dan Chisena (14) Daniel George (4)
WR K.J. Hamler (64)    
TE Pat Freiermuth (64) Nick Bowers (9)  
LT Rasheed Walker (56) Des Holmes (8)  
LG Steven Gonzalez (64)    
C Michal Menet (64)    
RG Mike Miranda (36) C.J. Thorpe (28)  
RT Will Fries (64)    
  • Levis Steps Up: Sean Clifford was knocked out of the game early in the third quarter, and Will Levis took the reins from there. It was the first time Levis has seen significant run this season.
  • Journey Solidifies Feature Back Role: Brown led the way once again, even with the return of Noah Cain. It is possible that Cain was supposed to see some drives in the second half until the injury to Clifford, and that a more experienced player was preferred with the backup quarterback in the game. Still, Brown earned his increased playing time. Devyn Ford did not appear in the game, and Ricky Slade did not travel with the team due to a suspension for team rules' violation.
  • Shorter Back in Good Graces: Justin Shorter had another mixed bag of an outing, but he started the game with two solid catches and ended with three on the day. This allowed him to break out ahead of starter Dan Chisena and second tight end Nick Bowers. Daniel George did not even get into the game until the final offensive drive.
  • Fewer Two Tight End Sets: As mentioned above, the increased trust in Shorter, however short-lived, resulted in Bowers seeing a limited amount of snaps.

Defense (85 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
DE Shaka Toney (55) Shane Simmons (21) Daniel Joseph (2)
DT P.J. Mustipher (58) Fred Hansard (16) Yetur Gross-Matos (7)
DT Robert Windsor (45) Antonio Shelton (36)  
DE Yetur Gross-Matos (48) Jayson Oweh (36) Adisa Isaac (8)
OLB Micah Parsons (75) Brandon Smith (9)  
MLB Jan Johnson (43) Ellis Brooks (22)  
OLB Cam Brown (66) Jesse Luketa (10)  
CB John Reid (80) Keaton Ellis (8)  
S Garrett Taylor (85)    
S Lamont Wade (74) Jaquan Brisker (37)  
CB Tariq Castro-Fields (59) Marquis Wilson (33) Trent Gordon (2)
  • Marquis Ascends: The overall number is interesting enough on its own, as Marquis Wilson heavily outplayed Keaton Ellis and Trent Gordon, though the latter is coming off an injury. The really interesting part came in the second half when Wilson played the final five defensive possessions of the game and Tariq Castro-Fields remained on the bench. It is possible that Castro-Fields was injured, as he has left four different games this season with various ailments. But Wilson has been flying up the depth chart as a true freshman, no matter how you look at it.
  • PJ Mustipher Leads All Tackles: Another young player jumping out to his highest playing time total yet, and another instance where it may be because of injury. Windsor did not appear on the final two defensive possessions. That he has been playing with a club on his hand since the second half of the Indiana game may be a factor here as well.
  • Continued Mixing Up of the Nickel and Dime Packages: Penn State is using a little bit more dime, and they consistently showed this look with three down linemen. They go with Gross-Matos as the sole tackle between Toney and Oweh, with three corners and three safeties. In the nickel packages, Wade is still the primary slot corner, but they did mix in Reid there again on the third possession, the only one that Wade did not play on.
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