Penn State Depth Chart and Snap Counts - Week 2: Seeing More of the Depth

By Dan Smith on September 14, 2021 at 8:00 am
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Cam Sullivan-Brown (6) makes a catch during the second quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Ball State 44-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State handled Ball State at home, covered the spread, and didn't suffer any major injuries. You can't ask for much more than that.

Offense (80 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team / Reserves
QB Sean Clifford (72) Ta'Quan Roberson (8)  
RB Noah Cain (46) Keyvone Lee (24) Devyn Ford (13) / Caziah Holmes (3)
WR Jahan Dotson (63) Marquis Wilson (15) Daniel George (3)
WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith (53) Cam Sullivan-Brown (18) Harrison Wallace III (4)
WR Parker Washington (45) Winston Eubanks (6)  
TE Brenton Strange (44) Theo Johnson (39) Tyler Warren (24)
LT Rasheed Walker (72) Olu Fashanu (8)  
LG Eric Wilson (69) Bryce Effner (11)  
C Mike Miranda (61) Juice Scruggs (19)  
RG Juice Scruggs (61) Mike Miranda (11) Des Holmes (8)
RT Caedan Wallace (72) Bryce Effner (8)  
  • Wilson Wins Left Guard Job: Last week's starter Anthony Whigan did not even play in this one, as they went elsewhere for guard depth behind new starter Eric Wilson. Bryce Effner got snaps at left guard at first, then swung to right tackle. Miranda and Scruggs swapped between center and right guard for a series, then Miranda was relieved at right guard by Holmes. And we saw the debut of Fashanu on the offense, playing the last two series for Walker at left tackle.
  • Loving the Tight Ends: If you're wondering why Washington is playing less than Lambert-Smith, it's simply because they're pulling the slot receiver off the field frequently to accommodate their two tight end sets. They're even dipping into three tight end sets and two running back sets. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich likes to use the talented depth on this side of the ball to throw a lot of different looks at opposing defenses.
  • Two-Way Wilson: Luketa isn't the only hybrid player on the roster. Marquis Wilson played at both wide receiver and cornerback in this one. He was the first replacement off the bench for Dotson, while Sullivan-Brown was the first backup for Lambert-Smith. Eubanks remains the top reserve in the slot. George saw limited action, as did Harrison "Tre" Wallace III in his debut.

Defense (76 plays)

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team / Reserves
DE Arnold Ebikete (42) Jesse Luketa (14) Zuriah Fisher (29)
DT PJ Mustipher (30) Dvon Ellies (18) Fred Hansard (2) / Jordan van den Berg (9)
DT Derrick Tangelo (28) Coziah Izzard (40) Fatorma Mulbah (20)
DE Nick Tarburton (26) Smith Vilbert (28) Amin Vanover (13)
OLB Curtis Jacobs (26) Charlie Katshir (21) Jamari Buddin (11)
MLB Jesse Luketa (35) Ellis Brooks (12) Tyler Elsdon (24)
OLB Brandon Smith (45) Kobe King (24)  
CB Tariq Castro-Fields (44) Kalen King (38) Johnny Dixon (24)
S Jaquan Brisker (21) Jonathan Sutherland (39) Sebastian Constantini (21)
S Ji'Ayir Brown (24) Tyler Rudolph (23) Jaylen Reed (29)
CB Joey Porter Jr. (38) DaeQuan Hardy (28) Marquis Wilson (8) / AJ Lytton (2)
  • Getting Brisker Rest: Brisker was shaken up multiple times in the opening game at Wisconsin. Penn State made a concerted effort to shelter him this week, showing plenty of Sutherland early and dipping into their depth as the game progressed. Rudolph and Reed appeared like the pair to keep things locked down in the second half until Rudolph was ejected for targeting. He will miss the first half against Auburn. Reed made his defensive debut, and walk-on Constantini got extended run in the wake of Rudolph's ejection. Converted safety Keaton Ellis remains off the gameday roster for unspecified reasons.
  • Plenty of Bodies on the Defensive Line: Dvon Ellies has solidified his role as the third defensive tackle, and Hakeem Beamon's status is still very much up in the air. Two guys taking advantage are Coziah Izzard, who seems like the fourth tackle at this time, and Fatorma Mulbah, who debuted in this one and played more than last year's fourth DT Hansard. Also debuting was van den Berg. At end, Vilbert saw more snaps with Luketa manning linebacker in the first half with Brooks suspended. Fisher also saw first-half action, and he appears to be the third team along with Vanover, at least while Beamon is an unknown.
  • Luketa Hybrid Experiment Continues To Work: Luketa played defensive end in their 3-man fronted dime scheme, but other than that played the entire first half at middle linebacker. He then swapped back to defensive end in the second half and cashed in a pick-six. Luketa has the early-season look of a guy flying up NFL draft boards for 3-4 teams looking for an edge rusher.
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