Maryland Snap Counts: Poor Play Leading to More Rotating at Underperforming Positions

By Dan Smith on November 12, 2020 at 10:58 am
Penn State Quarterback Sean Clifford
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland game happened. We do not need a preamble to address what you already know. Let's dive in.

Offense (100 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
QB Sean Clifford (100)    
RB Devyn Ford (63) Caziah Holmes (32) Keyvone Lee (5)
WR Jahan Dotson (91) KeAndre Lambert-Smith (18)  
WR Daniel George (59) TJ Jones (23)  
WR Parker Washington (88) Isaac Lutz (5)  
TE Pat Freiermuth (63) Brenton Strange (53)  
LT Rasheed Walker (100)    
LG Mike Miranda (87) Des Holmes (13)  
C Michal Menet (100)    
RG CJ Thorpe (46) Will Fries (28) Juice Scruggs (26)
RT Will Fries (72) Caedan Wallace (28)  
  • Quarterback: The first game this season in which Clifford played every snap was easily the worst of his career. It was frankly very surprising that Will Levis or Ta'Quan Roberson was not put into this game. Clifford's play warranted giving another quarterback an opportunity.
  • Running Back: With the devastating news that 2019 star and potential top draft Journey Brown has medically retired due to a heart condition, and with Noah Cain also out for the season with the leg injury suffered against Indiana, we now know that this is the running back rotation for the remainder of the season. While Lee showed well against Indiana, it seems that Holmes is further ahead of him. None of the three have shown enough to demand serious run. Ford will get the bulk of the opportunities, as he continues to be very good at picking up blitzes.
  • Wide Receiver: TJ Jones made his debut, taking advantage of Lambert-Smith playing himself off the field relatively early in this one. Despite the true freshman getting the start, it was a rough game for the youngster. George saw the bulk of the playing time on the outside. Dotson was on the field constantly, only taking brief breaks after running deep routes. Walk-on Lutz played five snaps in the slot, and they were not garbage time snaps. Cam Sullivan-Brown was mysteriously absent for the third game in a row.
  • Tight End: They run some two-tight end sets to get Strange on the field normally, and then have him spell Freiermuth on longer drives. For this game, however, Strange saw a lot of action. It seemed that James Franklin wanted to get the star off the field with the game out of reach.
  • Offensive Line: Walker and Menet are the only two locked into jobs, though Miranda has a fairly strong grasp on the left guard position as well and seems to only take breaks to get Holmes some reps. Miranda played all but one series against Maryland, and Holmes only played at left guard. The chaos was on the right side of the line. This is the first we have seen of Fries at right guard, something the coaching staff hinted at in the offseason. Thorpe's job is clearly in trouble. Wallace played four straight first half series at right tackle when Fries kicked to guard, and Scruggs debuted with Penn State for two series in the second half at right guard with Fries moving back to tackle.

Defense (61 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
DE Jayson Oweh (41) Shane Simmons (16) Smith Vilbert (4)
DT PJ Mustipher (46) Fred Hansard (12) Judge Culpepper (10)
DT Hakeem Beamon (27) Antonio Shelton (26)  
DE Shaka Toney (38) Adisa Isaac (14) Nick Tarburton (9)
OLB Jesse Luketa (47) Lance Dixon (8) Robbie Dwyer (1)
MLB Ellis Brooks (52) Charlie Katshir (8) Max Chizmar (1)
OLB Brandon Smith (34) Curtis Jacobs (13)  
CB Joey Porter Jr. (45) Daequan Hardy (27)  
S Jaquan Brisker (53) Jonathan Sutherland (9)  
S Lamont Wade (34) Ji'Ayir Brown (27)  
CB Marquis Wilson (36) Tariq Castro-Fields (33)  
  • Defensive End: Vilbert saw his first defensive action of 2020, and Tarburton played for the second straight week.
  • Defensive Tackle: Culpepper also saw his first defensive action of the season, as he had been limited to special teams play up to this point. Beamon continues to be favored for passing downs along with Mustipher, who is a do-it-all tackle for this team and was one of the few bright spots Saturday for the Nittany Lions.
  • Linebacker: Luketa was back to his full role this week. Katshir remains the second team middle linebacker, which keeps Luketa on the outside. Jacobs saw some run, getting on the field this week before Dixon did. Walk-ons Chizmar and Dwyer were in on the final play of the game when Maryland kneeled down.
  • Cornerback: Castro-Fields was injured on the first Maryland offensive possession of the second half and did not return. He dealt with injuries throughout the 2019 season that clearly impacted his play. This unit is already without Donovan Johnson, who is out for the season, and Keaton Ellis, who has not appeared on defense this season, and only appeared in one game, playing on special teams against Indiana. No explanation has been given on him. Wilson took Castro-Fields' place from there on out. Hardy played more in this game, mostly as the slot corner, though he was on the outside briefly in the second half.
  • Safety: Wade had a horrendous start to the game and was benched for the remainder of the first half after the second Maryland touchdown, replaced by Brown. Wade did return to the rotation in the second half. One notable change was that Wade is no longer playing slot cornerback; Hardy was the slot corner whenever Penn State when to its nickel package. Sutherland did not build on his increased playing time last week.