Illinois Snap Counts: Finally, An Easy Win with Some New Faces Appearing at the End

By Dan Smith on December 21, 2020 at 10:52 am
Dec 19, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions players sing their alma mater following the competition on the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Illinois 56-21. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 regular season is over, with Penn State closing out the campaign on a four-game winning streak to finish with a 4-5 record. And they did it with their most convincing win of the season, beating Illinois thoroughly at home.

Offense (80 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team / Reserves
QB Sean Clifford (54) Will Levis (22) Ta'Quan Roberson (4)
RB Keyvone Lee (37) Caziah Holmes (32) Joseph Bruno (3) / Tank Smith (1)
WR Jahan Dotson (54) Cam Sullivan-Brown (23) Malick Meiga (4)
WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith (35) TJ Jones (24) Daniel George (14)
WR Parker Washington (57) Isaac Lutz (19) Jaden Dottin (4)
TE Brenton Strange (49) Theo Johnson (28) Zack Kuntz (7) / Tyler Warren (5)
LT Rasheed Walker (71) Des Holmes (9) Juice Scruggs (4)
LG Mike Miranda (59) Juice Scruggs (17) Sal Wormley (4)
C Michal Menet (71) Mike Miranda (5) Juice Scruggs (4)
RG Will Fries (47) Anthony Whigan (22) Juice Scruggs (11)
RT Caedan Wallace (47) Will Fries (24) Bryce Effner (9)
  • Out: RB Journey Brown, RB Noah Cain, RB Devyn Ford, TE Pat Freiermuth, G CJ Thorpe
  • Debuts: RB Bruno, RB Smith, WR Meiga, WR Dottin, OL Whigan, OL Wormley
  • Little of Note Until the Game's End: Until emptying the bench at the end of the game, Penn State's offense essentially looked the same as it had the last few weeks. Really, the only notable change was that Jones and Sullivan-Brown were into the game before George, who did not play at all in the first half.
  • Four Positions for Scruggs: He did not technically play left tackle; rather he was the sixth offensive lineman four times. But he did play both guard positions and center in this one. He and Miranda split the center reps after Menet left the game. Both Scruggs and Miranda are likely starters in 2021, but the training camp battle will be for which position is which.

Defense (60 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team / Reserves
DE Shaka Toney (36) Smith Vilbert (20) Amin Vanover (8)
DT PJ Mustipher (37) Judge Culpepper (11) Hakeem Beamon (10) / Aeneas Hawkins (3)
DT Antonio Shelton (32) Fred Hansard (11) D'von Ellies (8) / Coziah Izzard (8)
DE Shane Simmons (30) Adisa Isaac (26)  
OLB Brandon Smith (51) Robbie Dwyer (8)  
MLB Ellis Brooks (48) Tyler Elsdon (5) Jesse Luketa (4)
OLB Jesse Luketa (41) Lance Dixon (7) Zuriah Fisher (8)
CB Marquis Wilson (43) Sebastian Constatini (8)  
S Jaquan Brisker (29) Ji'Ayir Brown (10) Tyler Rudolph (8)
S Jonathan Sutherland (29) Lamont Wade (16) Enzo Jennings (5)
CB Daequan Hardy (42) Keaton Ellis (35)  
  • Out: DE Jayson Oweh, DE Nick Tarburton, LB Micah Parsons, LB Charlie Katshir, CB Tariq Castro-Fields, CB Joey Porter Jr., CB Donovan Johnson
  • Season Debuts: DT Hawkins, LB Fisher, LB Elsdon, CB Constantini, S Rudolph, S Jennings
  • More Rotating at Linebacker on Passing Downs: For the first time this season, Smith was not an auto-bench on passing downs. He has occasionally remained on the field in the past, but in this game, there was a true rotation where the three starting linebackers traded off which player would leave the field when in nickel formation. It led to Smith, for the first time in his career, leading the linebacking crew in snaps.
  • Limited Playing Time for Wade: After his kickoff return for a touchdown, Wade only played one more series, the first one of the second half.
  • Vanover Position Not Clear: The true freshman played defensive tackle two weeks ago against Rutgers. This week, he came in as a defensive end. It will be notable to track updates in spring and summer camp to see what position fits best for the young talent, with defensive tackle the likely favorite. There have been cross-trained players in the past, like Kevin Givens. There have been ends who can rush from the tackle on passing downs like Yetur Gross-Matos. And there are ends who bulk up and move to tackle, like Hakeem Beamon.