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Penn State Football

Penn State: Special Teams Disappointing in Win

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

UNIVERSITY PARK – There was a lot to like in Penn State football’s season-opening 38-15 win over West Virginia on Saturday evening.

For one, there was Drew  Allar’s as starter, and the defense getting better as the game went on.

But there were also the downsides, and look no further than the kicking game as problem No. 1 that the Penn State will need to solve fast,

In a job that held a lot of question marks over the preseason between Sander Sahaydak and Columbia transfer Alex Felkins, Sahaydak missed two field goals within two minutes late in the first half.

The first was a 38-yarder from the right hash. The other was in the middle of the field from 35 yards. Both were hooked wide right by the left-footed kicker.

Coach James Franklin said in his postgame press conference that the kicking battle was “really very close

“It really could have went either way,” Franklin said. “Early on, Felkins had the lead. Then Sander kind of took the lead late in training camp.”

Sahaydak made a pair of extra points in the first half, but the two misses from inside of 40 was enough for Franklin to make the change for the second half.

“If you miss two field goals that I do not think were long, challenging field goals, it was close enough that we went to the other guy,” Franklin said.

Felkins responded well, coming up with a 25-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. He also went 3 for 3 on PATs.

Franklin wouldn’t commit to a change moving forward into Saturday’s game with Delaware.

“We’ll discuss it,” he said. “There will be competition all year long at every position, but we have the depth that if it’s not a guy’s night, we have someone else we can put in really at every position. But we obviously haven’t made any decisions.”

The placekicking was the major concern, but there were also a few other miscues on the special teams end. The first came when PSU punt returner Kaden Saunders called for a fair catch in the second quarter. Although he called for the fair catch, another teammate blocked the Mountaineers’ Andrew Wilson-Lamp into Saunders. The play initially looked to be kick catch interference, but the block into Saunders made it a moot point.

Franklin also pointed out a kickoff that could have went out of bounds, and Australian punter Riley Thompson’s two punts only going for an average of 37.5 yards.

“We were just kind of inconsistent,” Franklin said. “We have to get that cleaned up.”

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