Penn State walked into Jordan-Hare Stadium and walked away claiming the win over the SEC team. Auburn’s “orange” is more like ice cream in the late game, when the Nittany Lions run all over the Tigers
Here are the biggest takeaways from Penn State’s 41-12 win over Auburn:
Penn State flexible ground attack
Penn State’s running game – or lack of it – was a major weakness last season, and a big reason why a team led by Sean Clifford faltered in the second half of the season.
The Nittany Lions stuck with the same shotgun, RPO they deployed in 2021. This time, however, they can run the ball and run well.
Freshman running back Nick Singleton came in a big way ahead of Ohio last week. His 10-carry, 179-yard, 2-touchdown record is astounding, but there are doubts as to whether Singleton can produce a game against a much better Auburn defence.
Singleton definitely came to play and he doesn’t have to shoulder the burden alone. Singleton got his first game of his career, leading the team with 10 attempts, 124 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Kaytron Allen has 9 runs, 52 yards and two points to himself.
In total, Penn State ran 39 times for 245 yards and 5 touchdowns – 6.3 yards per bounce on average.
The run-to-pass ratio, 39 runs to 23 passes, is an absolute dream. A persistent, dangerous play will make this team a nightmare for the opposing defense.
Sean Clifford plays smart and tough
Sean Clifford is not the most popular player in Happy Valley. The polarizing quarterback quartet has made some tough losses over the past few years, and is now being scrapped by freshman Drew Allar.
However, games like this show that Clifford is not only a good player, but also a tough shooter.
During his first drive, the sixth-year quarterback was hit by a fierce blow. Clifford sees it as a champ and welcomes communication for the rest of the day.
Clifford finished 14-19 for 178 yards with 15 yards and a point on the ground. Most importantly, he made good decisions and avoided overturning the ball.
Don’t forget about the attack line
Of course, success on the offensive side would never have been possible without a banner day on the offensive line.
The Olu Fashanu ball and Juice Scruggs center have been great all year and are a big reason why backtracks have such wide open lanes to run through.
No complaints from the front guard pass. Sean Clifford remained upright in the box, as the Tigers’ defense failed to manage a single QB.
Auburn also only had three tackles to lose. The lack of disruption is a huge testament to the Penn State executives ahead.
Manny Diaz loves two things about the defensive coordinator role: pressure and direction. His defense provided him with both.
The Nittany Lions certainly won the battle for revenue, as they recovered two of the three required fumbles and added a pair of interceptors.
The biggest thing the Penn State has done is protect its end. Auburn was forced to tackle a pair of short goals and turn the game around twice inside Penn State’s 30-yard line. If any of those drives end in a touch failure, that could be a very different final score.
Six shots, nine quarterbacks and 11 tackles lost certainly didn’t make life easy for the Tigers. The second day also did not have solid coverage.
Penn State’s team of defensive athletes fit perfectly into the offensive scheme Diaz operates. The forward seven is fearsomely fast and has the depth to continuously charge with fresh feet and deliver fresh pressure.
Linebacker U is still alive and well
When you think of #11 in blue and white, what names come to mind? LaVar Arrington? Micah Parsons? Abdul Carter may be joining that club soon.
Freshman quarterback Abdul Carter wore the legendary No. 11 and looked a lot like the legendary Penn State supporters in his first two games this year.
Like Parsons, Carter displayed unsurpassed speed and effort in position, gliding across the court. Carter’s pace broke through the defense, the TFL, and a clumsy shot that was accompanied by six tackles. His ability to continuously dribble is very impressive.
Sophomore Curtis Jacobs is also energetic, adding a sack of his own and menacing with his pace.
Absolute athleticism in the defense gives Penn State serious weaponry in both running and passing range.