Five Things We Learned: Idaho
Penn State got their season off to a very strong start with a dominating 79-7 win over the Idaho Vandals at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. It was the most points the Nittany Lions have scored in a game since 1991 and their sixth highest scoring outburst in program history.
Here are five things we learned from the season opener:
1. The defensive line looked as dominant as advertised
Coach Franklin said during training camp that Penn State might have one of the best defensive lines in the country, and it lived up to the expectations. The Nittany Lions recorded 7.5 sacks, 2.5 by preseason all Big Ten selection Yetur Gross-Matos. Other players like Jayson Oweh, Antonio Shelton and Shaka Toney were in the backfield all day. If this unit can keep this up all season, this could be a special group.
2. Penn State’s running back room is loaded
We learned Saturday that Penn State has four running backs that they could count on when they need a big run. Ricky Slade, Journey Brown, Noah Cain and Devyn Ford all scored touchdowns against Idaho, and all showed flashes of being great. It will be lots of fun to see the competition for carries as the season goes along between these four great running backs.
3. Sean Clifford settled in and turned in a great performance
Making your first college start at quarterback in front of over a 100-thousand people can be a nerve-wracking experience. Sean Clifford showed a little nerves during the first couple offensive series, but the redshirt sophomore settled down and turned a 280-yard, two touchdown performance. Clifford also showed some scrambling ability with 57 rushing yards. There will be growing pains, expected in any first-year starting quarterback, but overall Clifford turned in a great performance on Saturday.
4. Could Jordan Stout be one of Penn State’s biggest offseason additions?
Special teams were a disaster last year for the Nittany Lions. On Saturday, however, special teams turned in an almost perfect performance. Jake Pinegar was 2/2 on field goals and 10/10 for extra points.
The story of the game on special teams was Virginia Tech transfer Jordan Stout. Stout recorded touchbacks on all 13 of his kickoffs and booted a 53-yard field goal, which is something Penn State fans have not seen in a long time. If the two kickers can keep this up all season, the kicking game can go from a disaster to an asset in 2019.
5. The opponents will only get tougher from here
A 79-7 win against anyone is impressive, but Penn State fans also have to take into account that Idaho was a team that had a losing record a season ago. Penn State, however, did what they were supposed to do against an inferior team like the Vandals. It would have set off many alarms and panic if this game were competitive at any point.
Next week, the Nittany Lions face their first FBS opponent in Buffalo, but that too is a game where Penn State should flex their muscles against a weaker opponent. With many young players and first year starters, these game should generate confidence for the daunting Big Ten schedule ahead of them come October and November.
Penn State hosts the Buffalo Bulls on Sept. 6. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Kevin McConlogue is a senior majoring in broadcast-journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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