Extra points a day after the University at Buffalo’s 27-14 loss at Penn State:
x-If UB’s front seven can play that stout in the Mid-American Conference, UB just might have a shot at a top-five league finish (which would equal a bowl appearance). You can’t overreact to one game, but it was encouraging.
X-UB’s starting cornerback duo had a strong showing. Penn State threw downfield six times and completed just one (a great throw by Christian Hackenberg for 38 yards in the fourth quarter). Marqus Baker had tight coverage on two deep sideline passes. Boise Ross had tight coverage on a third deep down the sideline.
x-Anyone could see Penn State’s offense was disorganized. Two illegal formation penalties on third-and-1 plays. Guys coming on the field late. A time out because of disorganization coming out of a commercial break. Not enough. Plus they’re not taking enough advantage of Christian Hackenberg’s downfield passing ability. Obviously they are worried about the protection holding up. But the offense was too conservative vs. UB, even given the rainy conditions.
x-Penn State head coach James Franklin is on shaky ground. He did a great job in winning at Vanderbilt. The success there was largely on the strength of the defense. If this offense doesn’t get a lot better fast, he’s in trouble after the season.
X-Hackenberg’s accuracy falls well short of a first-round NFL talent. He had too many passes with clean pockets in which the ball wasn’t right on the money. He has regressed under Franklin the past two years.
x-Tyler Grassman hit a pretty good punt in tough conditions on the play that went for a 58-yard return. It was a 42-yard punt with a decent hang time of 4.3 seconds (by our watch). But it was one of the few punts that was straight down the field, not directional. UB coaches thought there was a block in the back on the play.
x-UB RB Anthone Taylor could play in the Big 10. He probably wouldn’t get a chance to start in the Big 10. But he would be a productive running back in a power-five conference. His toughness and strong pad level continues to impress. He had 93 yards on 18 carries. Taylor went over 2,000 yards in career rushing, joining Branden Oliver (4,049) and James Starks (3,140).
x-It was a good day for St. Francis High School, which scored a big win on Long Island, but it was not a promising day for St. Francis product Akeel Lynch, Penn State’s starting running back. The big performance by true freshman Saquon Barkley (101 yards in the fourth quarter) could push him ahead of Lynch on the depth chart soon.
x-Joe Licata passed Marty Barrett (1980-83) for third in school history in career passing yards with 6,967 yards.
x-Licata was perfect on his two TD throws, a 14-yarder to Ron Willoughby and a 10-yarder to Marcus McGill.
Licata on the TD to Willoughby, down the right sideline:
“We had a great play call. We knew we had one on one to that side. The safety didn’t go over to help, so I knew I was going to take it. Someone was in my face as soon as I threw the ball so I didn’t actually see him catch the ball. I tried to throw it a little bit behind him because I saw the guy (the cornerback) over the top. Ron’s a big 6-5 who goes up and gets the ball.”
x-Penn State’s size and athleticism gave UB trouble in punt protection. Penn State nearly blocked the first punt of the game. After that, the Nittany Lions left UB’s wide gunner on the right side of the field and brought an extra man to rush the punter. UB responded by bringing the gunner in to help block. Did Lance Leipold consider keeping the gunner lined up wide and throwing a pass to the wide open guy?
“Yes there was” discussion if it, Leipold said. “That was definitely worked on. Asking your punter to throw a ball in the rain when he doesn’t do it all the time, and to a defensive back who doesn’t catch balls all the time. If that’s on me, it’s on me. We were about to go to it. I just didn’t feel. And heading in to the fourth quarter, did we really need to do that yet? It’s a decision I made."