After an embarrassing performance in their opener, the GSU program received a week two bye to work their miscues. After the beatdown in Happy Valley, there will be more things to work on as Shawn Elliott is still searching for his first win as the head man in Atlanta.
Penn State got out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back as junior Trace McSorley threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns to pace this potent Penn State offensive attack. Saquon Barkley only received 10 carries but he recorded big plays on the ground and the air. Barkley had a 33-yard run to go with the the 85-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. He’s the real deal.
It was a balanced passing attack as eight different players recorded two or more receptions on the night for Joe Moorhead’s Penn State offense. Barkley led the Nittany Lions in the passing game with four receptions for 142 yards.
It was a positive sign that Georgia State finally got the ground game churning. Taz Bateman, two weeks after rushing for just 27 yards on 12 carries, recorded 100 yards on 29 carries against a solid front seven. Although it was only good for a 3.5 yards per carry average, it a was a definite improvement from this program’s previous rushing efforts. As a team, GSU had 150 yards rushing and the success against a legit Big Ten defense should results in some successful efforts in the Sun Belt.
The passing game really struggled against a very good Penn State secondary. Starter Conner Manning only tossed for 133 yards with a 4.6 yards per attempt average. Manning threw three interceptions on the night and could really never get into any type of rhythm. Dual-threat Aaron Winchester entered the game late and posted 37 passing yards to go with 39 rushing yards. If Manning can’t stay healthy or consistent, a move to Winchester may be made.
In a strange moment in the fourth quarter, James Franklin called a timeout with 11 seconds remaining as Georgia State was lining up attempt a 31-yard field goal. Franklin blamed it on his reserves having a hard time lining up. Either way it was kind of strange and now Georgia State will enter their third game of the season only averaging five points per game.
Moving forward, there was not much for Georgia State to accomplish this week. Their offense flashed some signs of life as they were able to move the ball against a very good Penn State defense. Taz Bateman recording over 100 yards on the ground is definitely something to build on. It’s probably not fair to be too critical of their defensive effort because Penn State has the best offensive player in the country with Saquon Barkley as well as excellent players at all of the skill position.
Moving forward, it’s essential Elliott picks up his first win very soon. GSU’s next three games are on the road (home game with Memphis on September 30th was canceled) before they return to Atlanta to host Troy on October 21st. The Panthers will have a great opportunity this coming weekend when they travel to North Carolina to take on a winless Charlotte squad.