Problems persist for Penn State, and that’s a good thing at the quarter post of the season.

The Lions won by 53 points Saturday yet still have plenty of reasons not to get too full of themselves, plenty of issues to work on in practice, plenty of room for growth. On the flip side, they’ve shown enough in reaching 3-0 to suggest this could be a special season if progress continues.

While much of the Big Ten was falling apart around them, Penn State bombed Kent State 63-10, making scads of big plays and yet also bumbling just enough early on to cause nervousness among the 106,000-plus at Beaver Stadium.

To match the flow of the game, here are the concerns first, followed by the positive signs:

Keep working …

Dropped passes: There were, again, a couple blatant drops, which is all the more worrisome considering Trace McSorley throws one of the most catchable balls in the country.

Juwan Johnson, zero catches: Penn State’s top returning receiver hasn’t looked particularly good since his 6-catch game in Week 1 against App State. He had 2 receptions for 23 yards against Pitt, then a goose egg Saturday.

He seemed to give up rather quickly on a deep ball, and didn’t get his head around quickly enough to snare a sideline pass near the goal line despite getting a hand on it.

That said, it could be the 6-4, 230-pound possession receiver simply wasn’t needed as the Golden Flashes allowed PSU’s speedier receivers to run right by them on deep routes.

The dreaded on-side kick: After Kent State tied the score at 7-7, it recovered a well-executed on-side kick. Give the Flashes credit, but the Lions should have anticipated the ploy from their 5-TD-underdog opponent. The play looked terribly similar to the one App State pulled off in Week 1. Penn State should expect to see it again, perhaps as soon as Friday at Illinois.

21 points called back: McSorley had three touchdown passes called back because of holding calls. The Lions finished with 9 penalties for 109 yards — vs. 6 for 65 in the first two games combined — in losing the penalty yards battle for the first time this season.

Stevens still out: Tommy Stevens (foot), the backup QB/offensive utility man, sat out a third straight game. Is it time to wonder if OC Ricky Rahne plans to reprise the junior’s multi-position role? The hope remains that PSU is simply making sure Stevens is 100 percent healthy while providing no sneak-preview video for Ohio State to dissect.

On the positive side …

Defense evolving: The defensive unit has pitched two second-half shutouts in a row.

Though the Lions don’t always pass the eye test, you can’t argue with the results — 7 sacks of Woody Barrett, negative rushing yards for Kent State through early in the fourth quarter before garbage time ensued. True freshman LB Micah Parsons is settling in, tallying 5 total tackles following a team-high-tying 7 vs. Pitt.

Outside of the fourth quarter of Game 1, PSU has allowed but 26 points in 11 quarters.

In Trace we trust: McSorley’s stats through three games, while solid, don’t go him justice. He’s dropping the deep ball right on the money time after time and running with incredible efficiency. His football instinct ranks as high as any college QB I’ve ever seen.

He produced 5 TDs on Saturday and had three others called back, and yet it was a certain other play that most showed his makeup.

Yes, the tackle. After a deflected ball led to his first turnover of the season, McSorley chased down and cut down interceptor Elvis Hines to stop what looked like a sure touchdown. The halftime score easily could have been 21-14, but McSorley’s hustle sparked a 2-minute surge for a 28-10 lead at the break.

Running strong: PSU racked up 297 yards rushing, with Miles Sanders leading the way with 86 — including one Saquon Barkley-esque carry on which he overpowered two would-be tacklers, leaped over the fallen body of one of them and took off for positive yards.

The future is so bright …: Sean Clifford hooked up with fellow freshman Daniel George on a 95-yard TD, the longest play from scrimmage in Penn State history. Throughout the roster, 4-star of 5-star recruits are living up to their rankings. James Franklin seems well on his way to restoring PSU to perpetual Top 10 status.