Saturday saw the Nittany Lions return to the win column at Illinois. They played their most complete game of the season and shook off the cobwebs from their Iowa loss.
The first half was kind of bland, but the Lions really responded in the second half. It was just about an ideal bounce-back game.
Daryll Clark looked like a completely different quarterback against the Fighting Illini. He was poised in the pocket and made things happen with his feet. There has been a reluctance by him and the coaching staff to running, but he is a much better quarterback when he does. Without the pressure of a national title bid ahead of the Nittany Lions, they seem more comfortable letting Clark be Clark.
He was in the game way too long though, they should have pulled him in the early fourth quarter. He took some shots he did not need to take.
OLB Sean Lee missed the game again. I would not expect too much of him next week against Eastern Illinois.
The offensive line had their best game of the season by far. The guards seem to pull a lot more and that made a huge difference. While Illinois is nothing special on defense, the offensive line has to be feeling better about themselves. Penn State rushed for over 300 yards.
Center Stefen Wisniewski was putting more zip on his shotgun snaps, though they were going a little high. That is better than low.
RB Stephfon Green had his best game to date. He ran up the middle better than ever and broke a 51 yard touchdown run in the second quarter to open up the scoring. Green was the primary back for a good portion of the game with Evan Royster having difficulties getting going.
Royster did improve as they game went on and also recorded over 100 yards rushing.
Illinois’ Juice Williams is the most overhyped quarterback of the decade. He simply stinks.
Funny how this was seen as the “trap game” for Penn State. I felt a lot better about it once the 3:30 p.m. kickoff was announced.
Speaking of kickoff, the Nittany Lions special teams are still really bad. This will become a problem again this season I fear.
WR Arrelious Benn was kept out of the end zone after scoring 2 TDs in each of the two previous meetings. OLB Navarro Bowman still can’t believe he did not tackle Benn though.
Illinois had an “Orange Out.” In Friday’s chat I joked that would help Penn State — a bunch of people in orange standing around will make them think they are driving through Pennsylvania.