Following is Neil Rudel's report card from Penn State's 10-7 victory over Illinois on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback C- Save McGloin's late TD drive, and it's an F. But credit the Scranton gunslinger for his moxie with the game on the line - 4-6 for 58 yards plus key pass interference penalty. Bolden, on the other hand, totally overmatched.
Running backs B Redd surpassed 1,000-yard mark with fifth straight 100-plus effort. But he fumbled twice - something Lions can't afford vs. next three foes. Beachum (2-2) got shot but Green didn't touch ball and Dukes didn't see field.
Offensive line C After allowing just seven sacks in seven games, Lions were touched for four by Illini. Three consecutive runs produced 2, 1 and 0 yards as Lions didn't mush Illini on key fourth-and-1 in third quarter.
Wide receiver C+ Moye added huge boost, even though he had bad third-down drop on late drive before separation lured pass interference. Brown and Moseby-Felder had drops, too, but Brown made two catches on game-winning drive.
Tight end C No catches but Szczerba was joined by Haplea in short-yardage sets. Thought maybe Haplea, who caught short TD vs. Iowa, would get number called but Redd scored on second down.
Offensive coaching D Estimated attendance of 62,000 included a flood who left at halftime. Bet they weren't real pleased with another force-feeding of Bolden. Two late timeouts put more pressure on Nits' D and nearly saved Illini.
Defensive line B Still had 10 stops and 3.5 TFLs. Steve Jones called him best DT in country. Not sure about that, but he's one of best in PSU history. Hill added 10 stops. Stanley had pick and fumble recovery. Cameo for DE Baublitz (84).
Linebacker A Talk in press box mentioned Hodges in same breath as LaVar. 19 stops were most since Poz's 22 vs. Northwestern in 2005. Stupar (9 stops) active - OK, he took personal foul penalty - and Carson (5 stops) plugged hard.
Secondary B+ Astorino and Sukay both enjoying very solid years. Sukay had great hit and forced Illini QB to fumble. Astorino made 7 tackles. TE was too open on TD. Lynn came up with interception.
Defensive coaching B+ Allowed way too much room on late 20-yard Illinois completion, a second-and-10 that put Illini in FG range. But that was offset by solid overall effort that produced 10 TFLs, second only to Eastern Michigan game (13).
Special teams B Bars' punt block injected some life and reversed field position. Brown shaky with two bobbles but did burst 19 yards with a punt return. Fera missed 43-yard FG, just his second in 14 tries. Coverage units solid.
The other guy C+ Zook always seems to be on hot seat, but he's made Illinois competitive. Illini need better passing game: On 36 second- or third-and-longs, Illini ran 24 times and, in defensive struggle, were beaten at their own game.
Officials D Wow - these guys were like a coffee club with multiple meetings and need for a half-dozen replays, at least one of which (the Illinois WR out of bounds) was called wrong and upheld.
Atmosphere B Part of what makes football great is the elements, but stadium security needs to crack down on snowballs. Fans who hung in to the end were rewarded with a great finish.
Overall grade C Neither team, amazingly, passed for 100 yards. Credit the late drive, but it's hard to believe PSU can win any of its last three without dramatic improvement on offense. Defense and special teams getting a hernia.
Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com. He will respond to brief comments weekly.