Tommy Stevens couldn’t have executed his role in Penn State’s offense better than he did in a 66-3 romp of Maryland in College Park.
The backup quarterback delivered the first touchdown of the afternoon on a 21-yard fake reverse, then capped things off with the game’s final two scores. All told, he accumulated 124 total yards and a career-high four touchdowns against the Terrapins.
Joe Moorhead continues to find new tricks up his sleeve for Tommy Stevens. pic.twitter.com/4xri8XS9mY
— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 25, 2017
Stevens, a redshirt sophomore from Indianapolis, led the Nittany Lions in rushing with 113 yards, but also found tight end Tom Pancoast for a 4-yard score late in the third quarter after taking over for Trace McSorley.
“I enjoy having an impact on the game. I enjoy helping my teammates out,” Stevens said. “I just try to work as hard as I can each week and just try to be prepared for these opportunities.”
The 6-foot-5, 228-pounder has typically been called upon in situations this season when the outcome of the game is already decided, but he had a chance to put his stamp on Saturday’s contest in the first quarter.
“Whatever time the coaches think is the best time for me to get in the game, that’s not gonna change how hard I play. It was fun being able to score early,” Stevens said.
“We have packages for him in certain field zones and certain down-and-distances,” James Franklin said. “We have something in each game [plan], and depending on how the game is going, Joe [Moorhead] feels comfortable putting him in. Obviously when you’re in control like we were tonight, that helps.”
Franklin hasn’t been shy about expressing his ultimate confidence in Stevens, but he’s also made sure to squash any questions of a quarterback battle in State College.
“We’ve got a pretty good quarterback in Trace McSorley. We’ve got a damn good quarterback as well in Tommy Stevens. But we have to be careful,” Franklin said. “Sometimes when you get into a two-quarterback system it can mess up the flow. I think we’ve handled it pretty well this year and I can see this package continuing to grow for us.”
Stevens has done a little bit of everything for Penn State this season, tallying three passing touchdowns, four rushing, and two receiving. With a month to prepare for their bowl game, the Nittany Lions will likely find a few more creative ways to get the ball in his hands.
Barring any roster shakeups this offseason, both McSorley and Stevens will be back next fall for their third straight year as one of the Big Ten’s most intriguing quarterback duos. If everything goes according to plan, Stevens will take over the starting job as a senior in 2019.
“I’ve learned a lot from this process,” Stevens said. “I’ve learned to be patient, which is not necessarily something that I had to do before. At the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about the team winning games.”