It didn’t take long for Christian Hackenberg to make a statement, and to silence those who thought a sophomore slump was imminent, on Saturday. The true sophomore threw his way into the record books in Penn State’s 26-24 victory over UCF, setting the program single-game passing yards with 454. He shattered the previous record of 399, set by Zack Mills against Iowa in 2002.
With the exception of two poorly thrown interceptions, Hackenberg looked great all game, connecting with his receivers on 32 of 47 passes. He looked comfortable in the pocket (when there was a pocket) and, generally, made good decisions. His long throws were right on target and the shorter ones fit in pockets that didn’t look like they existed. He got off to a great start too, throwing for 17 completions and 218 yards in the first half.
Hackenberg was basically as good as advertised, even without Allen Robinson. He seemed to have found two new favorite targets in Geno Lewis and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton, who combined for 19 receptions and 338 of Hackenberg’s 454 yards on the day. He found Geno Lewis for some huge plays, including a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter and another for 41 yards.
What may be most impressive about all of this is that Hackenberg did all of this against a very tough UCF defense that only allowed 239 yards per game passing last year. Last year against UCF, Hackenberg was only able to manage 262 yards in the team’s devastating loss.
The sophomore already owns one record, setting the school’s single-season freshman passing record by more than 1,300 yards. With this monster game, he’s in range of topping three more:
- He only needs to average 255 yards per game for the rest of the season to break Penn State’s single season passing record set by Matt McGloin in 2012. While 255 is no easy feat, Hackenberg averaged 246 yards per game last year, and a slight increase in that is far from out of the question.
- With his touchdown today, he only needs 23 more touchdowns to tie single season record for touchdowns in a season, set by Matt McGloin and Daryll Clark.
- He needs 24 more touchdowns to set the career touchdown record, currently held by Matt McGloin.
Whether he gets these records or not, Hackenberg has already given Coach James Franklin a huge gift of a win in his first game. It’s safe to say that Christian Hackenberg had a successful trip to Ireland.