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Penn State’s Offense Has More Tricks Up Its Sleeve

Penn State continues to get the job done in Big Ten play, winning its last 12 conference games dating back to last season.

The Nittany Lions took care of Northwestern 31-7 Saturday in Evanston, and while some fans will say they left a few points on the board, all that matters is the number in the wins column.

“We’ve got the most explosive player in college football,” James Franklin said of Saquon Barkley postgame. “We have an offense that doesn’t panic. We have coaches who don’t panic.

“But again, we’re critiquing a Big Ten win on the road where we scored 31 points and basically played shutout football. Do we have to get better? Yes.”

Trace McSorley seals the edge for Barkley with a nice block on Godwin Igwebuike.

Northwestern largely accomplished its goal of stifling Barkley in the run game, save for his 53-yard burst down the right sideline for his second touchdown of the day.

“He knows if he stays patient and sticks with what we do, his plays are gonna come. And if they don’t, somebody else will make plays that allow us to win,” Franklin said. “He’s an unselfish guy who gets the big picture in a circumstance that probably most guys wouldn’t.”

Barkley praised his offensive line in the tunnel of Ryan Field, maintaining how important it is for Joe Moorhead’s attack to put a “strain” on the opposing defense for 60 minutes.

“I don’t really get frustrated,” Barkley said. “You’ve just gotta take what the defense gives you. I’d say patience is a big part of being a running back in general.”

On top of his extracurricular impact, Tommy Stevens also had a chance to run the offense.

As Penn State heads into its bye week, Franklin mentioned there’s still some wrinkles the team left under wraps during the first six games.

“I do think we’ve got some stuff that we saved for the second half of the year that we haven’t shown a whole lot. For us, we just stay patient and keep distributing the ball.”

The theme of patience also translates to backup quarterback Tommy Stevens’ mentality this season. After not seeing the field the last two weeks, Stevens made the most of his opportunity in the backfield alongside Barkley and McSorley.

Stevens hauled in a 10-yard touchdown catch, his second of the season, to make it 10-0 Nittany Lions early in the second quarter. Stevens’ athletic ability as a receiver doesn’t surprise Saeed Blacknall, who finished with four receptions in the victory.

“He’s just a playmaker. Whatever he does, he wants to help the team and be spectacular,” Blacknall said. “He’s been that this whole season. Whatever his role is, he embraces it.”

Blacknall tallied a game-high 74 receiving yards against the Wildcats.

McSorley was equally as complimentary of the Indianapolis native’s versatility and willingness to do whatever Moorhead asks of him.

“We’ve had that in there for a couple weeks now,” McSorley said of the special package. “Tommy did a great job getting up the seam and making the catch.”

McSorley, who completed a school record 15 straight passes against the Wildcats, echoed Franklin’s sentiment that the playbook is still evolving.

“There’s definitely more that we have in our toolbox,” he said. “If we’ve gotta throw everything and the kitchen sink at a team to win the game, that’s what we’re gonna do.”

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]


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