Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Show your support for what this community means to you:

Choose a Donation Amount
Username (required for credit)

Welcome to the Hardcore Husky Forums. Take a look around and join the community. Have a topic? Join us and start a thread.

Power Rankings

Come out on Wednesdays.


  • While the Big 10 may be better by and large better than the Big 12, IMO there's no more overrated conference in college football the Big 10. If you like "TRY HARD" football, the Big 10 is the conference for you.

    Penn State supposedly has the #2 or #4 or whatever SOS in the country this year ... I personally find that hard to believe given that they had Rutgers on their schedule. But I clearly don't know much. The question to me is how do we beat Penn State ...

    Penn State on Offense

    All Stats are 2017 (2016) and are for all Power 5 Conference Games

    Yards per Carry = 4.50 (4.61)
    Yards per Pass Attempt = 7.70 (9.39)
    Yards per Pass Completion = 12.11 (16.43)
    Completion % = 63.6% (57.1%)
    Yards per Play = 6.10 (6.62)
    Points per Game = 39.1 (37.7)
    Points per 100 Yards = 9.0 (8.5)
    Turnovers = 9 (16)
    Plays per Turnovers = 79 (50)

    Everything starts with Saquan Barkley. He's good. He doesn't worry me per se in the running game as the above numbers show that they aren't quite as good of a running team this year as last and when combined with our strong and consistent run defense (2.7 yards per carry vs Power 5 teams, no game over 4.5 yards per carry). What does worry me in the run game is the presence of McSorley in some zone read concepts and getting outside of the pocket on passing downs. I suspect that the balance of their big plays in the running game will come out of these types of situations. As crazy as this sounds, in 5 of the 9 Big 10 games that Ohio State played this year, they averaged 3.1 yards per carry or less (Indiana 1.1 ypc, Northwestern 2.5 ypc, Ohio St 2.6 ypc, Michigan St 3.1 ypc, and Rutgers 2.9 ypc). Simply put, this is an inconsistent run offense at best.

    The passing game though, this is the area of concern and optimism going into this game. McSorely is listed at 6'1" ... I don't believe that for a second. He's more in the 5'10" or 5'11" range (you'll hear people descirbe him as "not that big" often). The big difference between Penn St's passing game in 2016 vs 2017 is that in 2016, the offense was far more vertical in nature with a ton of 50/50 balls thrown up. In 2017, the passing offense is a lot more conservative in nature working a lot of underneath routes. That being said, McSorely still throws a ton of balls that will be 50/50 shots and give our defense a chance to create turnovers. Additionally, he's got a pretty bad habit of staring down WRs and doesn't always have great footwork into his throws. A great example of where McSorely's decision making (and opportunities for the UW defense) can be boiled down to the following plays:

    Game Winning TD vs Iowa (watch his footwork):

    Game Deciding INT vs USC in last year's Rose Bowl (watch 2 plays starting at 5:51 of the video):

    What is concerning for UW's defense is that Penn St has 4 receivers with between 47 and 51 receptions (Mike Gesicki, Daeshawn Hamilton, Juwon Johnson, and Saquan Barkley). In many ways comparatively to other teams, we're well positioned to go against a balanced passing attack as we play our scheme and typically don't blitz playing heavy man to man. Penn St works hard to find Barkley in 1 on 1 coverage situations against LBs that turn into massive mismatches. I'm fairly certain we'll stay away from that.

    Penn State on Defense

    All Stats are 2017 (2016) and are for all Power 5 Conference Games

    Yards per Carry = 3.55 (4.00)
    Yards per Pass Attempt = 6.31 (6.39)
    Yards per Pass Completion = 10.7 (10.4)
    Completion % = 58.8% (61.7%)
    Yards per Play = 4.97 (5.10)
    Points per Game = 18.6 (26.9)
    Points per 100 Yards = 5.4 (7.1)
    Turnovers = 18 (17)
    Plays per Turnovers = 39 (52)

    I find it hard evaluating Big 10 Defenses because let's be honest, there's minimal QB play in the conference. It allows teams to effectively stack the box to stop the run without getting exposed in the passing game. But when you look at the stats, you see that they have improved in stopping the run and perhaps marginally better in the passing game. When looking at the relation between Points per Game and Points per 100 Yards, and then leverage against their remaining stats, what you get is a team that's largely about the same this year versus last, creating turnovers at a slightly higher clip, and holding teams to more FGs to drop the points per game.

    Watching Penn St, the numbers are largely backed up by the eye test. Generally speaking they are very stout against the run in the middle of the line. In obvious passing situations, they have the kind of edge rush that we wish for. As Pete noted in a recent presser, Penn St averages over 3 sacks a game ... that shows up when you watch them. And the close to 2 turnovers in Power 5 games is a sign of a team that is consistently around the ball. At the same time, they do blitz a lot and that creates some interesting formation challenges for them. They tend to play the run heavy and that can lead to a lot of 2 vs 1 and 3 vs 2 formations on the outside (cue the WR screen game). Against Ohio State, Barrett was able to use these matchup advantages to create some fairly simple plays on the outside for receivers. Because Penn St tends to play very aggressively in whatever they call, explosive plays are there. This play against Iowa is one that I could see playing out for UW against the blitz as Penn St tends to play a lot of heavy man coverage in those situations:

    When I look at those numbers though, it's impossible for me to not think back to the Rose Bowl last year and Sam Darnold carving them up. Or, I think more recently to this year and JT Barrett carving them up in a come from behind victory. In the last 2 years, Penn State has played a handful of Top 10-15 caliber games that I would compare favorably to this matchup (2016: Michigan, Ohio St, Wisconsin, USC; 2017: Ohio St, Michigan St). The relative performance of Penn St in these games paints a different story vs those stats listed above (all stats are Offense/Defense):

    Yards per Carry = 3.3 (4.8)
    Yards per Pass Attempt = 6.31 (7.2)
    Yards per Pass Completion = 13.9 (10.9)
    Completion % = 57.8% (66.1%)
    Yards per Play = 5.7 (6.0)
    Points per Game = 29.3 (37.7)
    Points per 100 Yards = 8.3 (7.7)
    Turnovers = 11 (4)
    Plays per Turnovers = 34 (121)

    When you dig into the stats, Penn St's defense isn't particularly good and tends to get exposed (particularly in the passing game) against good teams. Only last year's game against Ohio St (21) and this year's game against Michigan St (27) did they hold their opponents under 30 points. And perhaps more importantly, in these 6 games, they've been outgained on average by 134 yards per game. The only 2 games where Penn St has been close to even in those spots was last year's Big 10 Championship Game against Wisconsin (+20 in yardage) and this year against Michigan St (-7). When you break the type of talent on the field, this is a program that is much more in the Wisconsin and Michigan St range at this point of their program than in the blue chip prospect filled blue blood type teams of Michigan, Ohio St, and USC.

    How UW Will Win the Game

    Defensively, it is imperative that we avoid man to man situations against Barkley in the passing game. The things that have historically given the defense problems are mobile QBs plus TEs and RBs in coverage against our LBs. Vita and Gaines need to be able to dominate the middle of a very suspect Penn St OL in a similar type of performance to what they did against Wazzu. If we can take away the run game, then the Penn St offense becomes very similar to Wazzu working primarily the short passing game. I expect that Penn St will look to take advantage of Myles Bryant in the slot so I'll be interested to see how we will defend that. McSorely's not as reckless with deep throws as he was last year but will give us shots. Their deep passing game relies on their WRs winning 50/50 balls and they do it quite well. We didn't defend those plays well against Stanford and I expect we'll see a good amount of them against Penn St. The 3 keys that I'll look for watching the game defensively will be:

    1) Keep Barkley under 4 yards per carry
    2) Keep McSorely in pocket forcing him to throw the ball against our LBs and DBs
    3) Capitalize on poor decisions by McSorely and create 3 turnovers

    Offensively, the game plan will be delicate. Penn St will sell out to stop Gaskin. We can't win the game without Gaskin. But we won't win the game by focusing on Gaskin. The recipe for beating Penn St is getting them in the passing game. Play action will be our friend. Getting our TEs into play will be important. Finding a few opportunities for Ahmed on the outside in some of those 2 v 1 and 3 v 2 situations would be huge. Penn St likes to get their S within 10 yards of the LOS ... finding a few opportunities to take shots (hello Ty Jones) will be key. We need to get Penn St just enough off balance that we're able to be successful for Gaskin. I like us overloading the right side of the formation with 2 TEs and getting Gaskin off tackle and to the outside in those formations.

    1) Gaskin over 100 yards to ensure that we're able to create the needed balance for the passing game
    2) Play action is our best friend as the way to beat Penn St is through the passing game
    3) Limit turnovers and force Penn St to navigate full fields

    And finally, we can't lose this game on special teams. Kickoffs need to get to the end zone for touchbacks. No blocked kicks. We don't need to win in special teams to win the game. But we can lose the game on special teams. If we can play to a draw, we'll have a great chance at winning.
Sign In or Register to comment.