PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Hackenberg Shines, And Shows He Can Pass, Run, And Catch

Penn State’s passing game lived and died by the explosive play last Saturday in Baltimore against Maryland. The result was a rollicking 31-30 back and forth affair that saw the Nittany Lions thrive on some drives, but stagnate on others.

This Saturday back at home against Illinois, Christian Hackenberg led a much more balanced attack — a steady combination of screens, deep balls, and precise lasers — that saw helped Penn State hang 39 points, the most of the season.

Following the victory, Hackenberg preached balanced, efficient execution — buzzwords he incorporated into nearly every answer. He insinuated that for once, everyone did their job, and that made everyone’s job all the more easier.

“At the end of the day, at my position you have to have a very focused mindset,” he said. “You can’t control other things, you do what you need to do. For me, I just try to block it out, I trust those guys and the hours they put in.”

That trust Hackenberg has instilled in his teammates, especially his offensive line, has left him on the ground many times this season. Hackenberg was sacked three times Saturday afternoon, in large part a result of an offensive line that saw its seventh combination of starters in nine games. But compared to previous games, it held its own. Running lanes allowed Saquon Barkley to tally 84 yards on the ground, and Hackenberg had time to pass 29 times. That was as many attempts as last week, but he completed eight more of them this time.

“You got guys playing well, that takes pressure off of you. You got your line blocking, that takes pressure off of you. You’re running the ball really well, that takes pressure off of you,” he said. “It makes things a lot easier.”

And even when all of those things weren’t clicking, Hackenberg made plays for himself. James Franklin has joked that No. 14 is a dual threat quarterback because of his ability to scramble. Saturday’s performance affirmed that, and suggested a triple threat label may be more appropriate. First there was the most exciting three-yard scramble one will ever witness. Forced from the pocket, Hackenberg eluded one tackler, side stepped the next diving defender, then sprinted past the third.

“That one scramble he had, I was like ‘Throw it away!’, ‘Throw it away!’,” Franklin said. “But then it was awesome.”

Later, Hackenberg caught his first career touchdown pass. As he described it, “we knew it would be tough sledding up the middle,” so the Lions keyed their running game to the outside. Once the offense felt Illinois was over-pursuing, it called a trick play in which Nick Scott ran out wide, leaving Hackenberg wide open on the other side.

“My stomach dropped a little [when the ball was in the air,” Hackenberg said.

But matching the message of the rest of the day, he chalked the Halloween trickery up to execution and practice.

“I think it was called in the time of the game where you’re still wrapped up about what will the defense do,” he explained. “So I think being able to just get the flow of the game, and execute how we did, its just a testament to who we are.”

After a slow start to the year, Hackenberg is now quietly putting together an impressive season — especially of late. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and more than 1500 yards. He’s also found his receiving corps again, and playmaker Geno Lewis has two touchdown in the last two games after being nearly unheard from in previous weeks.

“A lot of times people find reason to be critical,” Franklin said. “To me the most important statistic is touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s done a great job of that in our last six games, 12 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.”

Hackenberg elaborated, and praised the team effort.

“We were able to just get lost in the flow of the game,” he said. “It was a great victory in terms of how we set it up.”

About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

Comments

More by Ben

Nassib Healthy To ‘Kick Some Ass,’ Johnson And Hackenberg Seek Pro Evaluations

James Franklin made two things clear before the Lions travel South: Carl Nassib is 100 percent healthy for a game for the first time in more than a month, and Christian Hackenberg and Austin Johnson have both applied for draft evaluations from the NFL.

Gameday Observations: Return To Rec

Penn State Stomps Canisius, 81-67, In First Of Two Rec Hall Showdowns

Athletics

Penn State Women’s Soccer Beats Duquesne 6-0

Emily Ogle, Frankie Tagliaferri, Kerry Abello, Rachel Wasserman, and Kim Dubs scored for the Nittany Lions in Sunday’s lopsided victory.

Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Student Life

Student Body President Cody Heaton Welcomes Class of 2022 At Convocation

UPUA President Cody Heaton welcomed the incoming Class of 2022 Saturday evening with an inspiring speech.

Start The Semester Off Right With These Welcome Week Activities

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Penn State Officially Welcomes Class Of 2022 At Convocation

The Class of 2022 joined the Penn State family Saturday evening at Convocation.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend