Rutgers Snap Counts: Injuries Lead to More Early Reserve Usage

By Dan Smith on December 2, 2019 at 8:41 am
Nov 30, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) celebrates with offensive linesman Des Holmes (75) after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Rutgers 27-6.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State was without several key players Saturday against Rutgers. The injury list included quarterback Sean Clifford, running back Noah Cain, wide receiver Cam Sullivan-Brown, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, and cornerback Donovan Johnson. Additionally, wide receiver Justin Shorter missed the game due to his entrance into the transfer portal, and defensive tackle Fred Hansard missed the game for unknown reasons.

Naturally, this meant injuries of varying severity occurred through the game as well. Cornerback John Reid and left tackle Rasheed Walker were knocked out of the game and did not return. Safety Lamont Wade and left guard Steven Gonzalez also came down with injuries, though they were able to return.

Penn State has largely had good health during the 2019 season, but they limped to the finish line a bit, and it showed in the final score.

Offense (61 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
QB Will Levis (57) Taquan Roberson (4)  
RB Journey Brown (47) Ricky Slade (12) Devyn Ford (3)
WR Jahan Dotson (54) Weston Carr (5)  
WR Daniel George (36) Dan Chisena (12)  
WR K.J. Hamler (50) Mac Hippenhammer (7)  
TE Pat Freiermuth (53) Nick Bowers (21) Zack Kuntz (5)
LT Rasheed Walker (45) Des Holmes (16)  
LG Steven Gonzalez (54) Bryce Effner (4) Mike Miranda (3)
C Michal Menet (50) Mike Miranda (11)  
RG Mike Miranda (35) C.J. Thorpe (26)  
RT Will Fries (57) Caedan Wallace (4)  
  • Levis Starts, Roberson Debuts: With Sean Clifford still injured from the Ohio State game, Levis started in his place. Unfortunately, due to Levis' struggles in the passing game, the offense did not seal up the game until midway through the fourth quarter, which meant limited opportunities for the reserves. Only true freshman Roberson was able to get on the field for a series, with Michael Johnson Jr. remaining on the sideline.
  • No Cain, Brown Features Again: Noah Cain missed the game, and Brown was heavily featured once again. Slade returned from his suspension and saw second team snaps. Ford appeared for one series only.
  • Shorter Out, George Starts: Due to his place in the transfer portal, Justin Shorter did not play. George, not Chisena, started in this one, as he did back when Shorter was injured early in Big Ten play. With Shorter and Cam Sullivan-Brown both injured, Carr was the next man up at receiver and saw brief playing time.
  • Miranda's Versatility on Display: Gonzalez was briefly injured, and Miranda slid to left guard for three plays. He also spelled Menet at center at one point. He played a lot in this game, despite not starting at right guard.
  • Walker Knocked Out of Game in Second Half: His injury led to Holmes finishing out the final few series at left tackle. Holmes played in each game this season, and is well prepared to step in for Walker as a result. It is unclear how badly injured Walker was.
  • Three Tight End Package: Kuntz is not looking to preserve a redshirt, as he redshirted last season. Rather, he has simply been unneeded with the strong play of Freirmuth and Bowers in front of him. Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne threw a new wrinkle in this week by deploying a three-tight end set that included Kuntz. This leaves just one wide receiver and one running back on the field, and it was limited in its effectiveness.

Defense (74 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
DE Shaka Toney (49) Daniel Joseph (21) Adisa Isaac (16)
DT Rob Windsor (54) Judge Culpepper (17) Hakeem Beamon (3)
DT P.J. Mustipher (33) Antonio Shelton (33) Damion Barber (7)
DE Jayson Oweh (34) Shane Simmons (24) Smith Vilbert (4)
OLB Micah Parsons (61) Jesse Luketa (13)  
MLB Ellis Brooks (32) Jan Johnson (28)  
OLB Cam Brown (47) Brandon Smith (13) Charlie Katshir (7)
CB Keaton Ellis (40) Joey Porter Jr. (30) D.J. Brown (7)
S Garrett Taylor (67) Jonathan Sutherland (7) Tyler Rudolph (6)
S Jaquan Brisker (44) Lamont Wade (41)  
CB Marquis Wilson (34) Trent Gordon (32) Daequan Hardy (7) / John Reid (3)
  • Reid and Castro-Fields Injuries Lead to Heavy Freshman CB Usage: Castro-Fields did not play at all, and Reid was knocked out on the third play of the game by Wade. With Donovan Johnson missing most of the season with the arm/shoulder injury he suffered against Pitt, that left the Nittany Lions' large cadre of freshman corners running the show. All four true freshmen played, with Porter Jr. hitting his limit to maintain his redshirt. Redshirt freshman Gordon played, which is notable as he has been limited by his own injury.
  • Oweh Starts in Place of Gross-Matos: With Gross-Matos unavailable, it was a simple next man up approach at defensive end. Third teamers Isaac and Joseph saw a slight uptick in their playing time as a result.
  • Hansard Out, Culpepper Mixes In: It is unknown what held Fred Hansard out of this game, but it resulted in Culpepper playing. True freshman Beamon saw a few snaps at the end of the game. Redshirt freshman Aeneas Hawkins did not play.