Report Card: Grading Penn State’s 9 overtime loss to Illinois

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Penn State had a gutsy performance today, despite them not winning the game against Illinois.

Let’s take a more in-depth look and grade the performance of the Nittany Lions.

Next: The Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks: C-

Sean Clifford was given the nod by James Franklin to start today, and you could tell he wasn’t 100-percent healthy. There were plays where he was trying to do too much and the Nittany Lions offense started the game out with quite a few run plays. Throughout the second half, a reporter had mentioned that Clifford was grabbing his torso, as his health played a small factor in his performance today. However, it wasn’t just Clifford who struggled today.

Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) passes the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Next: Running Backs

Running Backs: D

At one point during the game, Penn State’s offense had -30 rushing yards while Illinois had over 100 yards and a big part of that was from Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown.

The Nittany Lions just couldn’t get the ball moving today on the ground. After each one nice gain, Illinois turned it around with a big stop.

Next: Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers: B-

Penn State had its struggles today in the passing game. Despite Clifford’s struggles, he still got the ball moving in the passing game.

We saw some nice plays from Nittany Lions receivers, including two nice highlight-reel catches from Jahan Dotson and KeAndre Lambert-Smith showing off his speed to put the first 6 points on the board for Penn State.

Next: Defense

Defense: C+

The defense had a decent start to the game. They made some big stops when it mattered. However, they have definitely had better performances after today.

Losing PJ Mustipher was huge and it really showed. They have also dealt with injuries on their defensive line all season.

Penn State also got lucky with a good amount of Illinois penalties and the game should’ve been a higher scoring contest. However, the defense showed out when it mattered after a rocky performance from the Penn State offense.

Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions safety Jaquan Brisker (1) warms up prior to the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Next: Special Teams

Special Teams: A

There wasn’t a ton of action from the special teams from Penn State. Jordan Stout still did what he needed to do to get the job done.

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