Penn State Bye Week Report Card Grades: Offense

By RLR Staff on October 13, 2021 at 9:00 am
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) is congratulated by wide receiver Parker Washington (3) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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Penn State is now halfway through its regular-season slate having played six games this season. Given that it is now the bye week, it's the perfect time to step back and review what we've seen from this team so far. Let's review where the offense stands halfway through the season.


Quarterbacks

Ankit: B+. This answer is obviously higher if Clifford plays the rest of the Iowa game. The way he was able to progress through reads and stay poised in the pocket was impressive. Roberson was not good enough when it mattered. It's a lot to ask of a backup at that moment, but one more scoring drive in that game is the difference.

Nick: B+. This would be an A, minimum, but since the Clifford injury did happen and Roberson did play, I feel inclined to include those snaps in my grade here. I do trust Roberson to improve over the bye week, so I think this can quickly get back into A- range.

Matt Flip: B+. Clifford has been as good as we could have asked for. The only thing keeping this from being an A is Roberson’s performance last week.

Running Backs

Ankit: C+. Not good enough in key moments and inconsistent, that's really the simplest way to break down this complex group. The talent is there. Lovett and Lee have shown they can have a positive impact when called upon. Cain has been banged up but just not good enough.

Nick: C+. It's hard to put too much of the blame on the running backs given how few holes they've been given to run through, but at the end of the day, none of these guys have been game-changers. Oh, and Noah Cain is very clearly not the same dude he was pre-injury.

Matt: C. This maybe isn’t fair considering the offensive line hasn’t been great but that’s just the way things are. They’ve been great in the passing game, so that’s worth something.

Wide Receivers

Ankit: A. Jahan Dotson carries most of the weight in this grade. What can't he do? Washington has been reliable and gives them mismatches to exploit. Lambert-Smith has shown he can offer a safe set of hands on 3rd down. Overall, this group has been very good and should be able to build upon their success.

Nick: A-. The emergence of KeAndre Lambert-Smith as a true third receiver has been a joy to watch alongside the continued awesomeness of Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington. This group remains very light on depth, but these three are better than any trio other than the one in Columbus.

Matt: A-. I love what I’ve seen from Jahan Dotson. KLS and Parker Washington have been great too. Cam Sullivan-Brown’s been solid as a fourth guy as well.

Tight Ends

Ankit: B. I'm not sure many expected a three-headed monster of Strange, Johnson, and Warren heading into the season. These are big bodies that have done good things in the passing game. They get a bit of a knock for the overall lack of success of the running game and two brutal drops from Strange last Saturday.

Nick: B+. Against, up until this last week, this grade would be higher, but Brenton Strange had two game-changing drops against Iowa that I can't ignore. Still, on the whole, Strange and Theo Johnson have been wonderful, along with Tyler Warren.

Matt: A+. I absolutely love what this unit has given the team. Strange, Johnson, and Warren have done all that’s asked of them and more.

Offensive Line

Ankit: B-. After some shuffling in personnel early on, this group has done enough to keep Clifford upright most of the way these first 6 games. Going up against fronts from the likes of Wisconsin, Auburn, and Iowa is no easy task. They just haven't opened up enough holes in the running game, and it's preventing the offense from being a dominant group. The false start penalties against Iowa were inexcusable.

Nick: B. I would love to go higher because the pass protection gets an A+ from me. But the complete lack of ability to give the running backs space is both disappointing and nonsensical to me. I'd like to say improvements in that area are coming but I just don't know.

Matt: C-. This unit has been fine in pass protection but has been mediocre at best in the run game. A lot needs to change before this unit lives up to their high expectations.


Let us know your grades in the comments and stay tuned for our defensive grades tomorrow.

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