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Positives and Negatives From Penn State’s win Over Central Michigan

Penn State Football
Photo by Penn State

Penn State made a statement in its 41-12 win at Auburn in Week 3.

Back at Beaver Stadium in Week 4, Penn State beat Central Michigan, 33-14 but didn’t look great doing it the way it did at Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

As with any game, there were positives and negatives. Here are three positive and three negative takeaways from Penn State’s win. 

THE POSITIVES

No. 1: ‘Fatman’ can run

Nick Singleton is still Penn State’s best running back overall.

But he wasn’t this week. 

After combining for 303 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries over the past two weeks (11.1 yards per carry), Singleton went for just 42 yards on 12 rushes against Central Michigan (3.5 YPC). 

With Singleton back down to earth, fellow freshman Kaytron Allen took center stage.

Allen– who scored his first two college touchdowns and 52 yards on nine carries at Auburn– went overshadowed because of Singleton’s 10 carry, 124-yard, two TD performance that featured highlight reel runs. 

Nobody overshadowed Allen this week.

Against Central Michigan, the kid known as “Fatman” broke the century mark for the first time in his college career, ending the day with 111 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries (8.5 YPC).

Singleton will be back to having big games soon enough. But Allen has shown that Penn State doesn’t need one running back to dominate for it to gain yards on the ground.

No. 2: Diaz’s Defense Finding Identity

Penn State got just one turnover combined over its first two games. 

It’s had seven over its last two. 

There’s a reason the “Turnover Chain” became famous when Manny Diaz was Miami’s defensive coordinator.  

Now running Penn State’s defense, Diaz still loves to cause chaos, and Penn State caused plenty against Auburn and some more of it against Central Michigan. 

A week after coming up with four takeaways, Penn State’s defense turned Central Michigan over three times and would have had another if Joey Porter Jr. didn’t drop what would have been a pick-6. 

Zakee Wheatley and Johnny Dixon did come up with picks, and both were important.

Wheatley’s pick, which came about midway through the first quarter, set Penn State up at the Central Michigan 15, and it scored its second touchdown three plays later to go ahead 14-0.

Dixon’s INT happened with 1:05 left in the first half, with Central Michigan at Penn State’s 46. If Dixon doesn’t come up with that pick, there’s a chance Central Michigan could have tied the game at 21 before halftime. 

We’ll discuss some problems with the defense later in the article, but Penn State is starting to create takeaways. 

No. 3: That’s Amore

Barney Amor’s punts didn’t quite hit the sky like a big piece of pie– as the great Dean Martin once said–, but Penn State’s new punter played a big part in Saturday’s win. 

Amor only punted four times Saturday, but the punts went for 178 yards and a 44.5-yard average.

Of the four punts, one went out of bounds at Central Michigan’s 3-yard line, had another downed at the six and, perhaps most importantly, one went for 51 yards before being fumbled and recovered by Penn State’s Curtis Jacobs.

Penn State scored a touchdown after Jacobs’ recovery, and the punt that fell out of bounds at the three led to a short field and a Penn State touchdown that put it back ahead, 21-14. 

Amor has been fantastic all season, and today’s win was easier for Penn State because of him.

THE NEGATIVES

No. 1: Offense Could Have Been Better

Thirty-three points don’t look too bad, and sure, there were positives, such as Kaytron Allen’s performance, to take away from what Penn State’s offense did Saturday. 

But here’s how far Penn State had to go for each of its five touchdowns:

  • 59 yards
  • 15 yards 
  • 34 yards 
  • 7 yards
  • 52 yards

Do you notice anything there? If you didn’t, the takeaway is that Penn State didn’t have to travel far for its touchdowns. 

Sean Clifford played probably his worst game of the season. After starting 8-for-8, the sixth-year QB completed 14 of his last 26 passes, and although he finished with three touchdowns and no interceptions, Clifford overthrew multiple targets and, to be fair, wasn’t helped out much by his pass blocking. 

 Penn State’s 33 points were the lowest its scored all season, which is a good thing through four games. But Penn State would like scoring drives longer than 59 yards.

No. 2: The Game Could Have Been Much Closer

Many Penn State fans expected the team to win by more than 19. 

Penn State came into the game as 27.5-point favorites and had covered in its previous three games, so the final score underwhelmed many people.

But what’s more concerning for Penn State is that the game could have and maybe even should have been closer. 

Central Michigan had two touchdowns wiped out by penalties and didn’t score on either drive. If those touchdowns stood and if Barney Amor weren’t fantastic, who knows how close the final score would have been? 

No. 3: What’s Pinegar’s Deal?

Is it something about Beaver Stadium?

Jake Pinegar is 12-12 combined in field goals and extra points in Penn State’s two road games. 

In its two home games, Pinegar has missed two field goals, one extra point and had another PAT blocked. 

Penn State beat Ohio 46-10, so Pinegar missing a 42-yard kick and a PAT didn’t matter. 

His missed 38-yarder and blocked PAT in Saturday’s win didn’t matter, either, in the short-term. 

But if the fifth-year kicker doesn’t find some consistency, it could hurt Penn State when its plays teams that aren’t from the MAC.

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