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Penn State, Happy Valley wasn't "almost heaven" for Mountaineers

No. 7 Penn State defeats visiting West Virginia 38-15

Allar jersey
Jeffrey Fyola via Flickr

The last time West Virginia had a win at Penn State was in 1954.

After tonight's clash in Beaver Stadium, Mountaineer faithful are still waiting for that elusive road win against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State controlled the game on both sides of the ball outgaining the Mountaineers 478 to 308 in total offense.

The Nittany Lions offense moved at will against a Mountaineer defense that had no answers for sophomore quarterback Drew Allar.

The Game Notes

1.) Allar amazes in his debut. Very few quarterbacks in Nittany Lion history had successful first career starts like Allar. Outside of the amazing stats Allar put up, he was accurate all night long. He had three bad throws all game, the one Allar wishes he would have connected was when the Mountaineers ran Cover 0 and Allar threw behind the intended receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Had he not, Lambert-Smith would have had another long touchdown. That will get cleaned up this week.

2.) One of the what if's for Mountaineer fans is what if cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr. came up with interceptions on two passes he had good reads on from Allar. WVU needed turnovers to be able to beat Penn State and the Nittany Lions started slow enough and gave ample opportunities to get back into the game. One of the areas the Mountaineers did not take advantage was getting the turnovers when the opportunities presented themselves.

3.) If Penn State wants to beat Ohio State and Michigan, especially Michigan, it needs to get more physicality up the center. WVU took advantage of this weakness with its experienced line and Donaldson at running back. The Mountaineers minus the bad Nicco Marchiol fourth down play outgained Penn State on the ground 157 to 146. Michigan last season ran for 418 yards against this Manny Diaz defense. The reason WVU couldn't capitalize on his interior physical advantage was that it didn't have the perimeter athletes or quarterback to make it happen. Penn State has a lot of work this week to clean up and improve its play up the middle. 4.) I don't know if there are enough superlatives in the English language to describe how good both Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are. They combined for 137 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

5.) Outside of the defensive interior the Nittany Lions have to work on, I think a few times the Nittany Lions linebackers over-pursued on plays and the Mountaineers took advantage of it.

6.) The most worrisome thing tonight is Penn State might have an issue at placekicker where Sander Sahaydak missed two field goals from manageable distance, 34 and 38 yards, and field location for the left-footed kicker was in his favor. The Nittany Lions can ill afford when it plays tougher tests to lose out on points and you need kickers to be automatic from under 40 yards.

7.) While Olu Fashanu seemed to erase his assignment on the left side, Caeden Wallace on the right side had some struggles early and it was nice he adjudicated himself pretty good as the game progressed.

8.) It will be interesting to see if West Virginia quarterback Garrett Greene and LSU transfer tight end Kole Taylor build any chemistry. The 6'7" 250 lb target displayed some deceptive speed and was able to slip through and make a key catch against an elite Penn State secondary. His two receptions for 31 yards might not reflect well on the stat sheet, but the eye test shows he needs to get more involved in the offense.

9.) While a lot of attention of WVU's defense goes to safety Aubrey Burks, cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr., or defensive lineman Sean Martin, linebacker Lee Kpogba had a game for himself. Kpogba finished with 13 tackles, 7 solo, 1.5 tackles for loss. Kpogba played sideline to sideline making key plays against the vaunted Nittany Lion ground game. He has the chance to stand out this year for WVU. 10.) While cornerback Kalen King gets lauded for his exceptional play, his cornerback partner Johnny Dixon is just as good. Outside of the blown assignment where Dixon felt he should have had safety help on the Devin Carter 37-yard reception, Dixon locked down his assignments and led the Nittany Lions in passes defended with two.

Play of the Game: Drew Allar 72-yard touchdown pass

Making excellent and good first impressions is always key. Allar couldn't have had a better first impression to Penn State fans and the rest of the nation.

Early in the first quarter, Allar stepped up on the pocket and threw a laser to wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 72-yard touchdown.

This shell shocked West Virginia and gave Penn State momentum that it did not relinquish the rest of the game.

Penn State Game MVP - QB Drew Allar

When a five-star quarterback goes to any school, it is a big deal and expectations are always high.

When a five-star quarterback has his first career start in a nationally televised game in front of nearly 107,000 fans, with high expectations, that can sink a lot of great athletes.

For Allar, he demonstrated the exceptional accuracy that head coach James Franklin has been lauding.

Allar finished the game completing 21 of 29 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns.

I don't think he could have had a better debut.

WVU Game MVP - C ZacH Frazier

Some may argue running back C.J. Donaldson deserves Game MVP honors finishing with 81 yards rushing and a touchdown. The reason I go with Frazier is for WVU to win the game, they needed to dominate the interior of the Penn State defensive line. Frazier opened many holes and physically won his fair share of battles with the Penn State interior defensive line. His footwork and hand combat allowing him to be nimble and find advantages opened holes for Donaldson and set the tone.

When you look at the box score, WVU matched Penn State with 146 yards rushing as a team and Frazier was a large part of that.

Next up…

Penn State hosts Delaware on Saturday, September 9th at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA.

West Virginia will host Duquesne next Saturday at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV.



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