Penn State Fires On All Cylinders With Room To Grow
Penn State’s offense is playing on a whole new level. It’s fair to assume the questions this unit faced a month ago have been answered pretty clearly, but now that we’ve seen what this offense is capable of, it’s fair to ask where it goes from here?
James Franklin knows how good this unit can be, but here’s the scary part — there are still improvements to be made. “We’ll never be satisfied, and that’s not just coach speak,” Franklin said. “The most important thing is we’re playing hard right now. We always tell our guys that the average play in college football lasts six seconds. Can you give us your best for six seconds at a time from an effort and a focus standpoint? Right now our guys are doing that.”
From a numbers standpoint, the results are staggering. Penn State out-gained Iowa 599 to 234 and at times it just looked easy. But the on-field product didn’t just arrive by coincidence; this team endured hardship and frustration. It’s lost key members to injury, yet remained resilient enough to not only bounce back, but do so with style. That style leads to confidence, and right now, there’s an abundance of it — especially with quarterback Trace McSorley, who was able to light up one of the best cornerbacks in the nation in Desmond King when given the opportunity against the Hawkeyes. “We understand the type of player he is,” McSorley said. “But our mentality is respect all but don’t fear anything.” When asked about how it felt to beat him for a touchdown, he didn’t hide his true feelings. “It felt pretty good,” McSorley said with a smile.
The Lions are in a favorable position after pulling off consecutive blowout victories. The immensely talented unit backed the hype and showed fans exactly what its capable of. Make no mistake — this group will correct its mistakes. Tight end Mike Gesicki is a representation of this offense’s stunning turnaround and growth, and he’s got a pretty clear sense of what comes next for the Lions. “The only way to go is up,” Gesicki said. “I think we’re just going to continue to improve and prepare even harder. We have one of the best offensive coordinators in the country. We have a bunch of guys who are capable of making huge plays. When you add all that stuff together paired with a tremendous offensive line, we’re headed in the right direction.”
The production is palpable, and the mentality is strong. This is a team riding a wave of momentum, and it couldn’t have picked a better time to gel. Next weekend, the Lions will play in front of a nationally televised audience on the road at Indiana. Something tells me the show’s just getting started with this bunch. Between Saquon Barkley generating legitimate Heisman buzz, coupled with a quarterback who’s firmly entrenched himself as this team’s leader, it’s fair to say Gesicki has a point.
The sky is the limit, and there’s no stopping this team once it gets hot. It’s an exciting time to be a Penn State football fan, but it’s even more fun to think about what comes next?
My guess is more of the same — just with a little more flair. Regardless, this unit’s complete overhaul has been remarkable, and it’s helped the program reach heights that were previously unimaginable. With three must-win games remaining on the schedule, the Nittany Lions have more than luck on their side. They have skill, and plenty of it.