Penn State Offense Hot While Challenges Await
The Nittany Lions have officially begun their bye week so now seems like a perfect time to take a look back and reflect on how they have played thus far. There was so much talk going into this season about how the offense would do without some of their biggest playmakers. The Penn State offense was a big play offense last year and a large part of being successful as that was having Saqaun Barkley, Mike Gesicki, and DaeSean Hamilton. All three are in the NFL now and many were worried if the offense could continue to be successful without them. In addition to losing them, Penn State also lost former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead who took a head coaching job at Mississippi State. He was also largely credited with molding Penn State into the successful offense that it was.
Despite many question marks and many doubts, the offense has been largely successful so far this season. The first four games of the season were against lesser talent but the amount of points that were put up on them is still rather impressive. The Nittany Lions faced App State week one and put up 45 points on them albeit in a close game. The following week Penn State went on the road and dropped 51 points on Pitt. The two weeks after that Penn State faced Kent State and Illinois and managed to score 63 points on each team. All in all, after those first four games it’s hard to be disappointed in the offense.
In last week’s heartbreaking loss against Ohio State, the team was only able to score 26 points. However, the Ohio State defense is among the best in the nation, so it wasn’t all that disappointing of a performance. Of course, the fourth down play call at the end of the game will continue to be criticized but their overall performance as an offense was respectable.
After taking a brief look at the offense overall, it’s time to look at some the individual performances. The offense begins and ends with Heisman candidate Trace McSorley. He is a proven winner that is the heart and soul of the offense. McSorley has had a stellar season so far and is coming off a career game last week. He threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns and added 175 more yards on the ground. Overall through five games this season, McSorley already has 16 touchdowns, 1050 passing yards, and 410 rushing yards. Those numbers indicate he clearly hasn’t lost a step and continues to make a case for the Heisman.
Aside from McSorley, Miles Sanders is another player who is having a good season. He is taking this opportunity and running with. After playing minimally in the shadow of Barkley the past two seasons, Sanders is finally the feature back of the Penn State offense. He has rushed for 538 yards and six touchdowns through the first five games of this season.
Finally, there is KJ Hamler. The electric and speedy return man/wide receiver has made a name for himself early. The redshirt freshman has been a spark plug in the return game and reliable in the passing game. His speed and shiftiness has led him to be the Nittany Lions leading receiver with 309 receiving yards and five touchdowns including one on the ground. Hamler has proven that he can be an elite player and will continue to be a large part of the offense moving forward this season.
Overall, the offense is off to a good start. However, there is still more than half of the season remaining against a handful of tough defenses. To stay in the national conversation, they will need to continue to put up big numbers.