Five Things to Watch For: Penn State Vs Pitt

By: Thomas Frank Carr

Beat Writer

  1. Control the Ball

The Pitt offense wants to grind opponents down into dust. There isn’t as much to grind when it comes to the Penn State defensive line. They’re smaller, quicker athletes who don’t’ have the bulk to hold up if on the field for the majority of the game. That means it’s on the Penn State offense to hold the ball, sustain drives and keep them fresh throughout the game.

  1. Don’t Beat Yourself

The Penn State defense allowed silly yards through penalties and blown assignments last week. There is plenty of emotion heading into this game so keeping those in check will be important. Marcus Allen in particular will have to play in control for the Penn State defense to have success. He’s incredibly talented but has focus issues from time to time. Too many personal fouls or late hits will put Penn State behind early.

The defensive line, especially at end, will have to play better vs the run today to have success. Shareef Miller had a great day with two sacks, but he struggled vs the run. Shoring up the running game vs a big, physical offensive line will be the key for the Penn State defense. They are more talented in the secondary and can shut down the Pitt passing attack if they don’t put themselves in situations where Pitt can use play action fakes. It’s a tall task for a young defensive line, but they’re very talented and need to mature to that talent level.

  1. DaeSean Unleashed

It seems as if the Penn State offense was holding some things back last week. DaeSean Hamilton had only two catches for nine yards, but was targeted twice in the redzone. The good news for Hamilton is that one of his catches went for a four yard touchdown. Hamilton is a dangerous weapon in the slot that Penn State will have to unleash today if Pitt doubles up on Chris Godwin.

  1. Saquon Barkley vs Jordan Whitehead

The two most talented players that will face each other today will go a long way to determine how this game goes. Whitehead has the speed and range to play corner, but is so physical, Pitt plays him at strong safety. Barkley will have a tough task once again with teams loading the box against him, let alone with Whitehead roaming the field.

  1. Close game, Narrow Margin

These two teams are very close in their talent level. Penn State has a higher ceiling with their speed and explosion at skill positions, but Pitt is more soundly built with veteran defensive and offensive lines. It’s cliché to say but this may come down to mental mistakes that determine the outcome. Penn State is at the disadvantage with their youth so this might be the problem for them. Either way it should be a close, hotly contested game. Exactly what fans were hoping for.