No. 15 Penn State looking to keep rolling against Buffalo
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — When Buffalo coach Lance Leipold looks at Penn State's roster, he sees a team that can attack in waves with few weaknesses.
At least none jumped out when he watched No. 15 Penn State (1-0) rout Idaho 79-7 last week.
"They just kept rolling in more guys with different numbers and continued having success," Leipold said. "That's probably one of the bigger differences from the last time we went there."
Penn State coach James Franklin calls it his deepest roster. Nine players had a hand in at least one touchdown.
The Bulls, who won 10 games and played in the MAC championship a year ago, will offer a stiffer test on Saturday. But Franklin isn't going to let up if he gets another chance to play deep into his roster.
"I know there's a lot of different discussions about scoring and these types of games and things like that, but it's my belief that you get the backups in the game and you allow them to play," Franklin said. "I think they deserve that opportunity."
While Franklin likes to lean on at least two ballcarriers throughout a season, having five capable players is a luxury at this point.
"I don't know if I've ever been a part of that before, five running backs, five separate running backs all scoring a touchdown," Franklin said. "So at this point, I think it's working extremely well, but obviously it's very early in the season."
Penn State's ground-and-pound produced 331 rushing yards against Idaho, its most since it racked up 387 in the Big Ten opener at Illinois last year.
Franklin attributes most of those yards to the physical play of the offensive line. New starting right guard C.J. Thorpe helped set the tone with a handful of pancake and second-level blocks.
Thorpe was an agitator all through camp and his edgy style translated well in Week 1.
"Our defense could not stand CJ, it was like fights in practice every single day," Franklin said. "During the game when they're all standing on the sideline watching CJ do those same things to the opponent, they love it. We need that mentality, a gentleman and scholar off the field and a guy on the field, when the ball's snapped until the whistle blows, that's going to pay with an edge."
LOOKING FOR TARGETS
The Bulls only needed to throw 10 passes in their 38-10 win against Robert Morris last week. Leipold envisions a heavier workload for quarterback Matt Meyers in Beaver Stadium.
Buffalo's passing offense is still a work in progress as Meyers makes just his second career start. The Bull's top returning receiver caught just 12 balls last season.
Hoping to counteract the inexperience, Leipold said he and Meyers focused on fine-tuning sideline relays in preparation for the noise. The Bulls had seven false start penalties when they played in the 107,000-seat stadium in 2015.
"It will be challenging in that environment," Leipold said. "We think some of the ways we can signal and communicate should also help maybe take some of that away."
Penn State placekicker Jordan Stout notched 12 touchbacks to cap an overall solid performance for the team's specialists under new coordinator Joe Lorig. He also kicked a 53-yard field goal on an afternoon the Nittany Lions blocked their first kick since 2016.
"Just knowing that we've got a weapon like that, not only on kickoffs," Franklin said. "But also send him out for a 50-yard field goal pretty confident that the ball is going to go through the uprights."