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Penn State Fans Need to Reset Expectations for 2020

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The Team that Dominated Memphis in the Cotton Bowl is Gone

Penn State v Memphis Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The news broke this week that returning starting running back Journey Brown could be lost for the entire season due to an undisclosed medical condition discovered in the offseason.

He was a breakout star last year in a crowded running back room. His blazing speed and stop-on-a-dime cuts surprised opposing defenses. He shocked Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, rushing 16 times for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was his best game of the season and we all had huge expectations for him in 2020. But this is the year of “Hey WTF just happened?”

Micah Parsons was another player surrounded by high expectations. He was an All American, 2019 Butkus Award finalist and the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Like Journey Brown, he totally dominated Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, recording 14 tackles and two sacks. But that doesn’t come close to covering his role in that game. He was the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP.

When the pandemic hit, Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, signed an agent and began training for the NFL draft. According to scouts:

Those are just two more losses added to the list of graduates and transfers during the offseason:

Dan Chisena, Nick Bowers, Steven Gonzalez, Mac Hippenhammer, KJ Hamler, Jan Johnson, Cam Brown, Ricky Slade, Justin Shorter, Daniel Joseph, Damion Barber, DJ Brown, CJ Holmes, Brandon Taylor and Coach Sean Spencer.

Many of those names were starters last year. Nearly all contributed.

KJ Hamler is another who will be sorely missed. He had a catch in all 26 games he played in. racked up 3,000 all purpose yards in 2019. He also contributed 5 catches for more than 40 yards. His 2019 season ranks tenth best among all PSU wide receivers. In his career at PSU he 17 receptions of 20+ yards, eight catches of 30+ yards, five catches of 40+ yards and three catches of 50+ yards.

He now plays for the Denver Broncos.

Rutgers v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The problem that I and many PSU fans have is that the team that dominated Memphis in the Cotton Bowl is what I expect in 2020. That’s who I want to see on the field.

That won’t be the case. Those players...that team is gone.

We need to enjoy that memory...but we can’t set our expectations for 2020 based on that team.

We’ll see how this 2020 team looks, but an 0-2 start isn’t out of the question. We’ll see how the new coaching staff can prepare the new starters for this unprecedented year.

I’ll probably need a cheat sheet for the first couple of games to get to know the starting wide receivers and the running backs.

Next Man UP!

Your Friend,

Townie