Penn State Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Ohio State Game
Saturday night was a rough outing to be a Penn State fan.
Thanks to a blocked punt for a touchdown, the Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten) went into halftime tied 7-7 with Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten).
However, the second half was all Buckeyes, turning a pick six into a massive momentum shifter that the Lions couldn't recover from.
After a 35-23 defeat, some players certainly had some issues/miscues, while others actually played pretty well.
With that being said, let's take a look at who performed well and who didn't on Saturday night for the Lions.
Quarterback: Matt McGloin
When looking strictly at Matt McGloin's statistics for the Ohio State game, one might assume he had a very productive game.
After all, the senior totaled 327 passing yards, completed over 50 percent of his passes, and tossed for two touchdowns.
Out of McGloin's 327 passing yards, 85 were on the final drive of the game when the Lions were down by 19 points with a little more than six minutes to go.
While the Buckeyes were sitting back in prevent-type defense for much of the drive, the former walk-on did a good job to try and get the Lions back in the game.
However, it was a pick six that really sucked the life out of the stadium—a throw McGloin clearly should have never made.
While he statistically had a solid game, the interception early in the second half was ultimately a huge deciding factor in the Lions' loss, making it tough to commend McGloin for Saturday's performance.
Running Back: Bill Belton / Zach Zwinak
One thing that really hurt the Lions on Saturday night was the lack of established running game.
When you look at the Lions' three Big Ten wins, they ran the ball for 173 yards against Illinois, 161 yards against Northwestern and 215 yards against Iowa.
Penn State's rushing totals against the Buckeyes? Thirty-two yards.
While that number reflects the yardage lost when McGloin was sacked, the Lions' running backs individually did not have great games by any stretch of the imagination.
Zach Zwinak had a few solid runs, totaling 42 yards on 12 carries.
But that combined with Bill Belton's weary 26 yards on 10 carries wasn't going to give the Lions' offense enough balance to topple the Buckeyes.
Belton did have a nice day catching the ball out of the backfield, hauling in five catches for a respectable 35 yards.
Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson and Brandon Moseby-Felder
Statistically, Allen Robinson had a productive day, grabbing five catches for 68 yards, including a 37-yard gainer.
However, the sophomore stud also had a couple of crucial dropped passes on Saturday—drops that could have changed the momentum of the game.
These missed opportunities have become a trend for Robinson, who has been the Lions' best playmaker on the offensive side of the ball this year, but tends to routinely have lapses in focus.
He's only a sophomore so he obviously has time to learn and develop, but in a huge game like Saturday's it's tough on the offense to drop those kind of balls.
While Brandon Moseby-Felder has taken a back seat to Robinson this year, the redshirt junior showed up to play on Saturday against the Buckeyes.
While he grabbed only four catches, Moseby-Felder took them for 70 yards, including a huge 43-yard completion.
With a 17.5 yards per catch average on Saturday, Moseby-Felder probably had the best game of his career against the Buckeyes.
Tight End: Kyle Carter
While he couldn't hold on to a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter (see photo), Kyle Carter still put up great numbers Saturday night.
The redshirt freshman showed once again why he's arguably Matt McGloin's favorite target in Bill O'Brien's tight end heavy offensive scheme.
While he didn't hit the century mark, Carter hauled in a team-high six grabs for 77 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown.
Everyone knew that tight ends were going to be an integral part of the Lions offense moving forward, drawing comparisons to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots in the preseason.
While it would be foolish to compare Carter to one of those guys this early in his career, the redshirt freshman will have a lot of time to develop under O'Brien and it's scary to think of what he can do in the future.
The offensive line did a decent job of producing a nice pocket from which McGloin could throw from for most of the night.
However, the lack of a running game and the Lions' quarterback getting sacked four times has to be credited in part to the big boys up front.
In terms of the sacks, a couple of the four were coverage sacks, but others they just blatantly failed to pick up the blitz.
Also, the running game didn't produce much as previously mentioned.
Thirty-two total rushing yards is not going to cut it and the O-line has to be at fault for some of that failure.
Defensive End: Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley
After getting healthy enough to start, Pete Massaro began the game on the field as the starter and was in a constant rotation with freshman Deion Barnes for the majority of the contest.
Regardless, Massaro made a decent impact, assisting on a sack and helping out with another tackle.
However, he failed to tally a solo tackle and the rotation definitely didn't allow him to get in a rhythm.
While the defensive ends were tasked with containing the Buckeyes' zone reads, Sean Stanley did the best he could even though Braxton Miller still had a field day.
However, it wasn't Stanley's fault, considering the big end tallied seven tackles, including four solo tackles (led the Lions' D-line).
Stanley was also in on the Massaro sack—a play that ended the first quarter with the Lions holding momentum.
Defensive Tackle: Jordan Hill and DaQuan Jones
Jordan Hill and his fellow defensive lineman were faced with a very difficult task: penetrate the backfield and disrupt the zone read.
While Miller and Carlos Hyde had success running the ball, Hill still had a productive game, but not a signature performance.
With seven tackles (two solo, five assisted), Hill compiled a solid game, but as a senior you would have liked to see Hill create more havoc in the backfield and tally a sack of two.
Regardless, Hill showed his ability to take on sizable linemen and make plays.
Prior to the season, expectations for DaQuan Jones were that he would fill in and play Jordan Hill's role from last year, when Hill played a fantastic counterpart to eventual NFL draft pick Devon Still.
However, Jones really hasn't panned out this season and it showed again on Saturday.
With just one assisted tackle, Jones didn't make much of an impact at all against the Buckeyes.
Considering his lack of production and James Terry's two tackles and one sack, don't be surprised if Jones loses his job sometime in the near future.
Linebacker: Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson and Mike Hull
Saturday was just another day at the office for Michael Mauti.
The senior beast quietly totaled 13 tackles, seven of which were a team-high in solo takedowns.
While he didn't create any interceptions or fumbles, Mauti still played well against the Buckeyes.
The only problem was that Ohio State's Braxton Miller or Carlos Hyde already gained a decent amount of yardage before Mauti got to them.
While Mauti kind of overshadowed Gerald Hodges in the first half of the year, the senior proved his worth once again on Saturday night.
Hodges, who had a team-high 14 tackles, produced one of the biggest defensive plays of the night when he sacked Carlos Hyde for a 10-yard loss.
The speedy and hard-hitting linebacker also caused this interception with intense pressure on Braxton Miller.
Overall, Hodges had himself a game Saturday, even though it was overshadowed by Ohio State's methodical yet scintillating offensive approach.
While the other two linebackers performed well on Saturday, middle linebacker Glenn Carson was kind of missing for most of the game.
Carson, one of the most underrated linebackers in the Big Ten, came up with just five tackles (two solo).
In a big game like this, you'd like to see Carson disrupt the running game a little more and make one or two tackles for losses.
While he didn't get the start on Saturday, Mike Hull certainly had a night to remember despite the team's loss.
Hull was creating huge plays for the Lions' defense and special teams all night.
On the defensive side of the ball, Hull sacked Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller on a first down in the opening quarter.
And, of course, anybody who watched the game saw the blocked punt initiated by Hull.
For those who didn't see it, you'll have to wait to get to the "special teams" slide.
Cornerback: Stephon Morris and Adrian Amos
While Miller and Hyde methodically ripped up the defense on the ground, the Buckeyes really didn't do much in the passing game.
Considering how the running game was working, Ohio State and Braxton Miller didn't have to rely on the passing attack, but when they did throw, Stephon Morris did a good job in coverage.
Out of Miller's 134 passing yards, 72 of them came on one play, so the secondary didn't do that bad of a job on Saturday.
Morris finished the game with two solo tackles and one pass breakup.
What was said about Morris could be almost directly applied to Adrian Amos' performance on Saturday.
Amos, a sophomore, came up with five tackles (two solo, three assisted) and one interception off a horrid Miller pass.
Bottom line, it wasn't the play of the secondary that ultimately did the Lions in on defense against the Buckeyes.
Safeties: Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong
Hard-hitting safety Malcolm Willis led the Lions' secondary in solo tackles on Saturday with three, along with two more assisted tackles.
While Willis didn't really make any serious mistakes against the Buckeyes, the safety also didn't do much to stand out either.
Even though he did miss a tackle on Miller on this touchdown run, he didn't have too much of a chance to halt the quarterback in his quest for the end zone.
Like DaQuan Jones, safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was largely absent for most of the night.
Obeng-Agyapong had just one assisted tackle on Saturday, with no pass breakups to his name.
Not only did he not record a single solo tackle on the game, the safety also missed a huge opportunity early in the game.
On Ohio State's first possession, Obeng-Agyapong missed a chance for an easy pick six, but squandered the opportunity.
Missed opportunities were a major theme of the game the whole night, and it started early with Obeng.
Probably one of the Lions' major weaknesses for the first four or five games of the year turned into a strength on Saturday night.
Sam Ficken made both of his extra points and nailed his 27-yard field goal attempt.
While Bill Belton fumbled a kick return, he made the recovery and consistently got out to at least the 20-yard line on each of his returns.
And most importantly, the Lions' biggest play and the game's first scoring play came on a blocked punt by Penn State linebacker Mike Hull.
The blocked punt, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Michael Yancich for a touchdown, put the momentum in the Lions' favor early, but the team couldn't end up capitalizing on it further.