No. 7 Penn State Football played its most offensively uninspired game of the season Saturday against Illinois, and still came away with a three-score win, 30-13.
The fact that Penn State can play a lackluster offensive game and still score over 30 points to extend the nation’s longest streak of scoring 30 or more points in a game and a 10-game stretch where the Nittany Lions‘ defense has not given up more than 21 points shows just how good this Penn State team can be if it can get firing on all cylinders.
Before coming back home to face Iowa in Penn State’s annual White Out game, especially in what could be bad weather, here are three things that Penn State must fix this week
3 Things Penn State Football Must Fix vs. Iowa
Penn State must catch catchable balls
His stat line could have looked better, however, if Penn State’s receivers and tight ends caught a few catchable balls that were dropped.
Two passes were dropped by week one standout transfer wide receiver Malik McClain, who dropped a pass on Penn State’s first drives of the first half and second half, leading to 3-and-outs by the offense.
Allar also had a pass dropped in the endzone for what would have been the first touchdown of the game, forcing Penn State to settle for a field goal.
While Allar also had a number of missed passes Saturday afternoon, catching catchable balls is absolutely necessary for Penn State’s offense to succeed moving forward.
Malik McClain with his second drop today. Penn State goes three-and-out on its first drive of the second half
— Alex Rocco (@AlexRocco13_) September 16, 2023
Penn State must fix penalty issues
Last week, at his weekly press conference, Penn State head coach James Franklin remarked that the Lions had to improve in “Situational football” after Penn State was penalized seven times for 55 yards against Delaware.
Instead of fixing its issues with situational football, Penn State was penalized seven times for 70 yards Saturday against the Fighting Illini.
In the second quarter, Penn State picked up potentially its most costly penalty by KeAndre Lambert-Smith with a personal foul that turned a third-and-2 into a third-and-17 that ultimately led Penn State to a blocked field goal and a short field for Illinois.
With Illinois scoring on the resulting drive, the penalty potentially cost Penn State seven to fourteen points. This week, Penn State must work on situational football and fix the costly penalties that hurt the Nittany Lions Saturday.
If the weather is as bad as it is looking on Saturday, Penn State cannot afford to give up field position and points in what could be a very low scoring matchup between two teams with exceptional defenses.
a KeAndre Lambert-Smith penalty turns third-and-2 into third-and-17, Penn State can’t convert & then Jer’Zhan Newton blocks the field goal. Penn State’s lead over Illinois remains 13-0 with 6:09 left in the first half.
— Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) September 16, 2023
Penn State must find its rushing attack
Illinois came into the matchup against Penn State giving up 224 yards per game on the ground this season.
However, even though Penn State boasts one of the best backfields in the nation with Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, Penn State was not able to take advantage in the ground game for much of the game against Illinois.
On Saturday, Penn State did not have a rush attempt longer than five yards by a running back until 1:58 to go in the first half.
Penn State’s two starting running backs only rushed for more than five yards three times Saturday in total.
In order to be successful against Iowa in what could be a very rainy game, Penn State will have to be more consistent on the ground and get the rushing attack going against a stingy Iowa defense. So far this season, Iowa has only allowed 106.7 yards per game on the ground and has not given up a rushing touchdown.
If the weather is bad on Saturday, Penn State must be able to get the ground game working to pick up first downs and control the time of possession.
Penn State’s annual White Out is one of the best spectacles in all of college football. While the atmosphere will certainly give Penn State an advantage Saturday, Penn State must fix these three things in order to avoid a ranked loss against a stingy Iowa team.