“Dual-Threat QB” Christian Hackenberg Shines In Homecoming Rout
We’ve been hearing for years now from Penn State players and coaches that Christian Hackenberg is a great runner. He rarely has showed off that ability in games, often settling in to the pocket-passer label. When the offensive line allows pressure, he often takes the sack or tries and fails to escape. However, in today’s game against Indiana, he showed off what his teammates and coaches have been raving about.
The stat sheet shows Hackenberg as rushing for 21 yards, but that accounts for sacks, which are not entirely his fault. When he intentionally took off and ran, he did nothing short of impress. Hackenberg set a new career-long with a 22-yard rush, and added two touchdowns on the ground, including sailing through the air to bury the Hoosiers.
Looks like Christian Hackenberg learned some things from Saquon Barkley in practice. pic.twitter.com/4yrwmq3ftr
— Onward State (@OnwardState) October 10, 2015
“Took a little lesson from Matt McGloin,” Hackenberg corrected after the game.
His ability to run was a surprise, and a welcome one to Penn State fans. What wasn’t a surprise was his ability to find his receivers, now that he is finally being given opportunities to throw the deep ball.
“I think it was a combination of [Indiana’s defensive scheme and Penn State’s confidence], and the way our receivers have been playing, winning their one-on-one matchups on a consistent basis, and obviously us being able to run the football and work off play action and protect it,” Hackenberg said. “I think that they all played a role in it, and the way [Indiana] played defensively with their scheme, I think we saw we had the opportunity to have those one-on-one matchups and take advantage of them.”
“You can’t expect to go out, throwing the ball more than 30 yards down the field, and expect to get 70, 60 percent of them,” he continued. “If you’re getting 35, 40 percent you’re pretty happy cause that means you’re getting big plays, big chunks of yards, and touchdowns. Today we were able to do that.”
And even though the team’s best player led it to a win, it is still a team. The football was distributed today as well as ever, with seven players with at least one rushing attempt and nine players with at least one reception. With the absence of Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley, Nick Scott and Mark Allen took eight carries each for 57 and 45 yards, respectively. Chris Godwin had a team-leading four receptions, while three other players had three receptions. It was, dare we say, an excellently called game.
“Individually I started off a little slow, but I thought we were able to make some plays and do the things we needed to do to get the ball rolling,” Hackenberg said. “Obviously, our defense did a great job holding them to seven points, making big plays, John Reid’s interception for example was huge at that moment in the game. Being able to capitalize off of that, it’s good for us, good for our team.”
With a five-game home stand now in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the team to look forward to its next task: current No. 1 Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat Indiana by seven points last week, and Penn State won by 22. Scores against the same opponent are always meaningless, but with this win, next week certainly becomes much more intriguing.
“One week at a time, that’s been our mentality,” Hackenberg said. “So just really building off of everything we’ve been doing these past five, six weeks, and getting better at it, and proving our weaknesses, and building on our strengths, and continuing on to next week. Next week we have a great challenge with Ohio State, and after tonight, that’s gonna be our focus.”