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Penn State’s Offense Will be Better in 2017

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PSU Returns Loaded to Defend its B1G Title

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State
He wants to win more than anyone on your team
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

“Yolo ball”

“F&#k it and Chuck it”

“Fordham never beat anyone…”

“I still think PSU is the third best team in the B1G”

Yeah, yeah. I heard it all last year. Particularly after a heartbreaking loss to Pitt and getting blown out by Michigan. But when the dust settled, Penn State was on top and went to the Rose Bowl.

The 2016 team will be remembered for its resiliency. They started slow in nearly every game. It was brutal. We were losing at half-time in seven games last season…and we were tied with both Purdue and Indiana at half too.

However, something clicked in the second half for that team. We stormed back in game after game. They got better as the game went on. 0

Ahem...A certain shit-talking Wisconsin “writer” ate a ton of crow in the second half of the Championship game for sure.

You all know the name of a certain running back. He’s back. He’s a stud. And I think he’ll take a big step up in production this year, behind an improved O-line.

However, that’s not what we’re talking about today.

The key to most of our success last year was the passing game. That’s what we’ll focus on in this essay. That starts with Trace McSorley, our quarterback.

You may hate his home-run swing or think he looks “prissy” as someone commented last year. But this kid is as far from prissy as they come. He’s a scrapper.

The first thing you need to understand about McSorley is that this kid wants to win more than your team does. No really. You probably know the type. He gets knocked down. Beaten up. Punched in the mouth. He still wins the game.

He wants to win. And he will shove that football over the line no matter who comes at him.

Even running for his life, he’s looking to make a play. Last season he set Penn State records for total offense (3,979), passing yards (3,614) and touchdown passes (29). More records could fall this year.

He put up 384 yards in the air against Wisconsin, which was good enough for fourth best in a game. That’s just 70 yards short of the record.

Christian Hackenberg had nine games that he threw for more than 300 yards in his career. That’s the school record. McSorley had five last season. That record could easily fall halfway through the season.

Another record that will fall this year is career passing touchdowns. Hackenberg threw for 48 touchdowns at Penn State, the best in school history. McSorley threw for 31 last year alone.

Here’s what ESPN’s (former?) B1G writer Josh Moyer had to say about McSorley in 2016:

In 2016, Penn State’s pass offense put up 3,650 yards through the air. That was the most in the Big Ten. They scored 29 touchdowns, also...but that was last year.

Here’s the news from State College in 2017…you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Most of our offense comes back for 2017. We return all of our receivers, with one big exception…Chris Godwin. He was a great wide receiver who took his skills to the NFL. Godwin caught over a quarter of our passes and 44% of our touchdown passes. That’s a big deal.

You don’t just replace this:

But you know the saying...next man up. I look at that and see a polished receiver. But I also see some great touch on that pass. And we have some guys that could make that catch and more.

Our leading receivers this year will be seniors DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall. These two were overshadowed by Godwin in 2016. In 2017, they will be the main targets in the offense.

Blacknall was one of two critical players (along with Manny Bowen) suspended for the Rose Bowl game. He only played in seven games last season, but racked up 15 catches for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. He had a breakout game against Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game. He had six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Hamilton was the third best receiver in 2016. He had 34 catches for 506 yards but only one touchdown last year. Like Blacknall, he stepped up in the B1G Championship game with 8 receptions for 118 yards.

I see that game as a good showcase for 2017. However, they aren’t the only receivers to watch. DeAndre Thompkins, the twin towers of Juwan Johnson and Irvin Charles all have the potential to be game breakers. They are complimented by speedster Brandon Polk.

Those are the names to watch on the outside. Now let’s talk about tight end. Compare these numbers:

Tight End Comparison

TE Games Played Receptions Yards Avg. Yards per Catch Touchdowns
TE Games Played Receptions Yards Avg. Yards per Catch Touchdowns
1 13 51 654 12.8 3
2 12 46 546 11.9 4
3 14 48 679 14.1 5

This is actually a trick, because tight ends 1 & 2 are Jake Butt’s junior and senior seasons. Tight end 3 is Mike Gesicki’s 2016 season.

Gesicki is a beast:

As you can see above, Gesicki’s numbers are solid. Only Michigan and Maryland kept him from a catch over 10 yards. In every other game, he caught long passes. He caught pass of more than 20 yards in 12 games, more than 30 yards in 7 games, more than 40 yards in 5 games and more than 50 yards in 2 games.

He’s a good one, but Jonathan Holland is coming up behind him. Redshirt sophomore Holland had a great Blue-White game (our spring practice game). He led all receivers with 8 catches for 62 yards.

I expect to see these two contribute even more this year than Gesicki did last year.

However, what’s most important to me, is that this offense is fun. I love having a big play, WHAT DID THEY DO???, entertaining offense. They proved, repeatedly that they are never out of a game. And that’s what we’ll see again in 2017.

So run your popularity contests, your S&P++ algorithms and then tell me why Penn State isn’t going to win out...

I’ll point to last year’s team and tell you that you are full of shit. Besides, I really DGAF...this team is fun to watch and they have something to prove.

Your Friend,

Townie

Poll

Here’s how I feel about Penn State’s Offense in 2017

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Nope. I hate showoffs. Now gimme that bottle of Jeppson’s Malort...
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    Meh, I’m intrigued enough to watch them play.
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    Nooooo....Harbaugh Harbaugh Hargggggghhh
    (20 votes)
  • 64%
    Hell yeah, this is fun.
    (124 votes)
  • 10%
    /inarticulate sobbing because nice things and my team
    (21 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now