Penn State’s Offense Turns Another Corner In Georgia State Demolition
Thanks to a 56-0 pummeling of Georgia State Saturday night, the Nittany Lions have now outscored their opponents 141-14 through the first three games of the season.
Not even James Franklin could have expected this level of success in such a short time for offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead when he hired him away from Fordham in December 2015.
Eight different players scored a touchdown against the Panthers under the lights, as Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley added extensive footage to their highlight reels before the reserves carved up Georgia State in the second half.
McSorley finished with 333 total yards and five touchdowns (one rushing) in the victory. Barkley tallied 226 all-purpose yards while providing another gem of a score — this time for a career long.
Saquon Barkley's 85-yard touchdown catch makes him the only player in Penn State history with an 80+ yard touchdown catch and run. pic.twitter.com/8ZHdB32btT
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 17, 2017
“When Saquon’s a check down, usually pretty good things will happen — either get the first down or…go 85,” McSorley said postgame.
In just 53 plays, Penn State’s offense racked up 526 yards — good for a ridiculous 9.9 per snap. The Nittany Lions converted on all their of their trips to the red zone and scored 35 points off turnovers.
Redshirt freshman left guard Will Fries played with the confidence of an upperclassman in his first start. There’s not much Moorhead’s bunch could have done better Saturday.
“When one person gets in the end zone, everybody else wants to, which is just gonna make us better and help the team. It’s a dangerous offense,” Andre Robinson said.
The redshirt sophomore running back scored on an electric 41-yard run down the right sideline to cap the scoring. He had high praise for his backfield counterpart following the win.
“We kind of talked about Reggie Bush’s year when he won the Heisman,” Robinson said. “I see a lot of similarities between the two and the way that they attack games and other teams.”
James Franklin said Tuesday that Barkley has been Penn State’s starting kickoff returner for quite some time now, but he decided to withhold that information from the depth chart for scouting purposes.
It makes perfect sense why the Nittany Lions would want to get the ball in Barkley’s hands as often as they can. Like Bush or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, he’s a transcendent talent in open space.
Moorhead’s plan for utilizing backup quarterback Tommy Stevens continued to take shape against the Panthers, as the Indianapolis native made an impact in all three phases.
The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Stevens is a battering ram with the ball in his hands. He hauled in a 10-yard receiving touchdown to open the scoring and later hit Saeed Blacknall with a dime that traveled 50 yards in the air for his first career passing touchdown.
“The type of player Tommy is, to be able to be a threat to go out and catch a pass, be a threat to run the ball, and be a threat to throw the ball every time is something you don’t see in a lot of players,” McSorley said.
Stevens didn’t know he would be lining up alongside McSorley this often during training camp, but when the focus shifted to Akron preparation, Moorhead pulled him aside and gave him the good news.
“It’s continued to grow. We’ve got options we haven’t shown yet,” Stevens said of his role.
The Nittany Lions have already surpassed the 50-point threshold twice this season, matching the high-powered 2008 offense comprised of Daryll Clark, Evan Royster, and Derrick Williams. The rest of the Big Ten better watch out.