Penn State Enters Villanova Week 3-0

Penn State enters Villanova week 3-0 after beating Auburn 28-20. It was a sold out crowd in Beaver Stadium on Saturday, with an attendance of 109,958.

Penn State enters Villanova week 3-0 on the 2021 season. A far cry from where the Nittany Lions were sitting a year ago. College GameDay was on hand to watch Penn State beat Auburn on Saturday at the White Out. The Nittany Lions were able to hold on to beat the Tigers 28-20 in front of 109,958 screaming fans. What can Penn State build upon this weekend against Villanova?

Penn State is 3-0 Entering Villanova Week

Nittany Lion quarterback Sean Clifford had his best game in Blue and White against the Tigers on Saturday. The senior signal-caller went 28 for 32 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He looked poised and in control all night long. In addition, he utilized seven different receivers on Saturday night. Of course standout wide receiver Jahan Dotson was his favorite target, but Clifford spread the ball around. Dotson finished the night with 10 receptions and a touchdown. Close behind Dotson was Parker Washington. The sophomore has become quite the second option for Clifford this season. He finished the night with eight receptions, increasing his catch total to 18 through the first three games.

New Penn State Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich finally utilized all three of the Nittany Lion’s talented tight ends on Saturday. Tyler Warren, Brenton Strange, and Theo Johnson all contributed to the win with Strange and Warren both tallying a touchdown. Even though the run game wasn’t as successful as Yurcich would have liked with only 83 rushing yards, Penn State fans got to see a glimpse of what Baylor transfer John Lovett can do. After being sidelined for the first two games, the senior got his first chance in Blue and White on Saturday. He contributed with a nice 18-yard reception to keep a late drive going for the Nittany Lions. It will be interesting to see how he is rotated in with Noah Cain and company the rest of the season.

Nittany Lion Defense Could Use a Break

Penn State vs. Villanova is coming at a good time for the Nittany Lion defense. The “bend don’t break” attitude has really been put to the test early on in this young 2021 season. First, a grind-out win on the road against Wisconsin and then this hard-fought victory over Auburn. The Penn State defense will welcome Villanova on Saturday. Not saying that Villanova will be a walk in the park. The Wildcats are a solid FCS football team. However, it will be somewhat more manageable than Auburn. With the Big Ten schedule about to be in full swing, this Villanova game is just positioned nicely.

The Wildcats come into Beaver Stadium 3-0 on the year and 2nd in the CAA. Villanova had two decisive wins to start the season against Lehigh and Bucknell before taking down CAA opponent Richmond 34-27 on Saturday. Daniel Smith is the signal-caller for the Wildcats and enters Beaver Stadium with 598 passing yards through the first three games. Further, he has thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions this season. Look for the Penn State secondary to add to that interception total on Saturday.

Villanova running back Justin Covington has 307 rushing yards on 44 attempts in 2021. However, half of those rush yards came in week one against Lehigh. Covington was held under 100 yards rushing against Richmond last week. Look for Jesse Luketa, Brandon Smith, and Ellis Brooks to keep that trend this week. That trio tallied 24 total tackles against a stout Auburn offense on Saturday, including two for loss.

Improvements in the Kicking Game

As we discussed in the Penn State vs. Auburn preview, Jordan Stout has been struggling in the kicking game this season. Stout has been amazing in his punting duties, but placekicking has been a little bit dicey. He didn’t have to attempt a field goal during the White Out, but for the second straight game, Stout was perfect on extra-point attempts. He should be able to continue to build his confidence against Villanova this week before entering Big Ten play. There will likely be a few games this season where Stout’s strong leg is needed to win games. Looking at the kicks he missed early on against Wisconsin, he had the distance. He just needed to straighten it out. Hopefully, he can keep trending in the right direction against Villanova this week.

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