The slogan for the Penn State Football program is “unrivaled,” and despite the best efforts of Maryland, the Terrapins continue to be little match for the Nittany Lions.
Saturday afternoon inside Beaver Stadium, despite Penn State Football’s offense struggling to get much going in the passing game, the Lions’ duo of freshman running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen ran wild as the defense authored a signature performance.
Maryland was never really a threat, as they rarely have been when these teams meet on Saturdays in the fall, as Penn State Football shutout the Terrapins, 30-0.
Here are key takeaways from Penn State Football’s victory over Maryland:
Effective run game
The Nittany Lions had a mentality and a plan on how to attack the Maryland defense from the start, and that was to run the football down their throat.
Singleton returned to his early season form rushing for 122 yards, and two touchdowns, on 11 carries. Both of those scores came on 4th and 1 plays where Singleton hit the hole and was gone for 45 and 27 yards in the 1st half.
The true freshman running back seemed to be running angry and his power was on full display against the Terrapins. It is becoming more clear that Singleton is watching film and his vision is getting better as this season progresses, something that he lacked when being compared to Kaytron Allen.
While Singleton reached the end zone, Allen also had a solid day rushing for 73 yards on 16 carries. This duo continues to be sort of thunder and lightning and both have been improving in their deficiencies as the season continues.
The optimism going into next year should be high for Penn State Football fans, as they know the consistency that will be in the backfield behind a young quarterback.
Penn State Football Defense Dominates
When you get a shutout, it would be expected that your defense played well but that doesn’t always mean that they weren’t giving up yards.
That was not the case on Saturday as the defensive front caused fits for Taulia Tagovailoa tallying 7 sacks and only allowing 74 yards passing on 22 attempts.
The Maryland coaching staff actually pulled Tagovailoa in the 4th quarter, when the game was out of reach, and to avoid him from getting hit even further.
On the day, the Nittany Lions also tallied 9 tackles for loss, 6 pass breakups, and 7 QB hurries. This was all without best defender Joey Porter Jr. who did not dress for the game with a non-contact injury. Maryland finished with just 134 yards of total offense and was 4-15 on 3rd down and 0-3 on 4th down on the day.
Key players for the Penn State defense included emerging star Abdul Carter who collected 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass deflection, and 2 QB hurries. Chop Robinson had a fun day against his former team garnering 3 tackles with two of them being sacks. You could tell that this game meant a lot to Robinson as multiple times he was jawing back and forth with the Maryland offensive line.
The Manny Diaz defensive strategy of getting pressure early and often was on full display Saturday and Penn State will have 2 more opportunities this season against Rutgers and Michigan State where it could once again be effective.
Tight Ends carry passing game
On what was a relatively quiet day passing for the Nittany Lions, the tight end position continued to shine.
Brenton Strange caught the opening drive touchdown and had 3 catches for 34 yards on the day. Theo Johnson led the team in receiving catching 3 balls for 44 yards.
The wide receivers weren’t used much in this game in part to the effectiveness of the running game and the heavy downpour that happened in the 2nd half.
Having the tight ends getting more involved has been a great addition to this Nittany Lion offense as these last few games wrap up. Many fans wondered in the early parts of the season why the talented TE room of Strange, Johnson, and Warren weren’t more active in the passing game, and it appears that is changing.
If Penn State Football wants to finish 10-2 and potentially make a NY6 bowl, they will need to continue finding the big guys over the middle and get the ball in their hands.
Credit to Sean Clifford
This is something that I haven’t done much this season and he has struggled in quite a few games at times, but this week it is time to give Clifford his flowers.
Clifford now is the Penn State all-time leading passing leader with 10,023 yards passing Trace McSorley.
Penn State Football is on its way to potentially a 2nd 10-2 season with him at the helm, and there needs to be some respect in that.
While maybe the program didn’t progress like people were hoping for after that 2016-2018 run, the team is not in a worse position then when Clifford started. Sure, the 2020 and 2021 seasons were rocky and uncharacteristic of Penn State teams in recent years, but that seems to have been corrected for this season.
While many fans have been frustrated with Clifford and want the coaching staff to start preparing for the future and get Drew Allar meaningful snaps, I still respect the senior for putting up with the negative noise that has surrounded him this year.
Clifford may not be the quarterback to put Penn State Football over the top and win a Big 10 championship, but he has been a solid college quarterback in his 4 years as a starter and certainly should be given a standing ovation when senior day arrives in two weeks.
Maryland Fans …
Just in case there are any Terp fans that have clicked on this link for more torture, I figured I would leave this in here, or at the very least bring a smile to some Penn State fans. This game now brings the series lead to 41-3-1, and once again Penn State proves why it is the prominent team in the Northeast.
I know Maryland fans were all excited when Mike Locksley was hired and credit to him because he has turned around an abysmal team into a bowl eligible team these past two seasons.
However, sometimes it takes a game like this to realize just how far away you are as a program from the real teams in the Big Ten.
I am sure you can’t wait until the Big 10 scraps division so that you have more of a chance to even win 8 games. Sure, you can brag about your 2020 win in a COVID-empty stadium and keep falling back on that. Just remember that Penn State has outscored you 281-69 since 2016 and that is even giving credit for your 35 points scored in 2020.
The Maryland message boards were in shambles on Saturday night as they once again watched their team collapse in front of their “rival”. What a funny word that is…“rival”…I thought usually you had to win more than 9% of the games before you could use that term. Good news is at least basketball season is starting…let’s talk again in February.
Decorate your home or yard with this fun Penn State Nittany Lions Tiki Totem.
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