Penn State Football: Sivas delivers confidence-building performance

Penn State Football: Sivas delivers confidence-building performance

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Penn State couldn’t have had a confidence-building game from receiver Dante Cephas come at a better time as the Nittany Lions prepare for a season-defining matchup with Michigan next weekend.

Sivas, a Kent State transfer, caught six passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns as the Nittany Lions Maryland rolled past 51-15 During the final practice before the showdown with the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. The performance marked one of the few times this season that Penn State was able to manage quality production from multiple wide receivers in the same game, something that was exacerbated by injuries to Harrison Wallace sidelinedthe Nittany Lions’ No. 2 receiver is heading into the year.

“When there’s one guy that makes people nervous, a lot of defenses can figure out a way to make that difficult,” Penn State coach James Franklin said after the game. “But now there’s a lot of guys — tight ends, a lot of receivers making plays. It’s a real positive.”

Cevas was impressive on Saturday, getting two good throws and a skillful catch in the boundary end zone. The first put Penn State up 7-0 and the second was an emphatic grab in the fourth quarter to make the score 31-7. For a player who entered the transfer portal as one of the most sought-after prospects, it has been a long time coming until Cevas can finally get on the board.

“I actually knew I didn’t have a lot of real estate in the end zone anymore, so I was trying to hold my line and then catch the ball, and it was a great ball from Drew,” Cephas said of his first touchdown. … There was definitely some relief. You always think In the back of your mind, ‘When is it going to happen? When is it going to come?’

And I did on Saturday.

Heading into the Michigan game, it seems likely that Penn State will continue to rely primarily on the likes of No. 1 receiver K’Andre Lambert-Smith and the tight end duo of Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren, who have 98 of Penn State’s 189 receptions this year. year. However, the emergence of Sivas poses a legitimate threat in a fleeting match that did not generate the explosiveness or lethality that fans and coaches had hoped for before the start of the season.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if Sivas is able to do it again next weekend on behalf of a receiving room that has been plagued by inconsistency all year. Maryland also played a user-friendly Cover 0 defense for most of Saturday’s game, a scheme Michigan won’t use or stick with for long if it doesn’t work. Maryland opted not to offer safety help on the corners over the top, effectively emboldening Penn State to make quarterback Drew Allard and his receivers beat them. And they did. Michigan may not try to do the same.

Either way, Sivas and his teammates will have to rise to the challenge.

“He’s showing flashes that he’s obviously capable of doing some really good things,” Franklin said earlier in Cephas Week. “It’s about consistency I always talk about.”

In defense of Sivas, sometimes development and growth doesn’t happen within one week of training. In his most complete game of the year for Penn State, Cevas looked the part of a talented, in-demand receiver capable of making game-changing plays in big moments. The challenge now will be to stack those days, and more importantly his ability to stack the offers. It’s a challenge for all players, let alone players who jump a few levels in difficulty.

“I think there’s an adjustment period that he’s going through,” Franklin said of Sivas earlier in the year. “It’s one thing to do it two or three times a season, when you watch him play an opponent like Georgia. It’s another thing to do it week after week in the Big Ten, and I think it’s another thing to do it every day in practice.”

But sometimes it only takes one game to flip a switch. That’s certainly what Penn State hopes becomes true.

“Today sets us up for the rest of the season,” Sivas said. “We know we can spread the ball around… I’ll catch any ball that comes to me.”

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