The Five Best Plays Of Joe Moorhead’s Tenure At Penn State
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will leave his post in Happy Valley to take over the head coaching gig at Mississippi State, Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday night.
Through his two-year tenure, Moorhead led the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance, increased the offensive scoring production by nearly 20 points from the 2015 season, and established Saquon Barkley as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.
Moorhead has called some huge plays for the Nittany Lions in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Here are some of our favorites:
Tommy Stevens 13-yard rushing touchdown vs. Iowa (2016)
Joe Moorhead decided to get creative in the fourth quarter of a blowout against Iowa at Beaver Stadium in 2016.
Tommy Stevens entered the game with a 27-point lead in hand, but not behind the center. Instead, he lined up in the slot, moved in motion towards Trace McSorley, and took a handoff on a jet sweep. The play call first appeared to look just good enough for a first down, but Stevens’ sheer determination to score led him to smack a helpless Iowa defender en route to the house.
The creative play call was the highlight of an otherwise boring fourth quarter.
Saquon Barkley 16-yard touchdown pass to DaeSean Hamilton vs. Indiana (2017)
Joe Moorhead decided to get fancy yet again while the Nittany Lions held a solid lead towards the end of the fourth quarter against Indiana.
After lining up in a typical shotgun formation, Trace McSorley pitched the ball to Saquon Barkley. When it looked like Indiana had stuffed the run and had a sure tackle-for-loss in the backfield, Barkley shocked the college football world with his next move. He untucked the ball from his arm and threw it. The ball fell right into DaeSean Hamilton’s arms just inside the ten-yard line and the senior receiver did the rest, running in for a 16-yard touchdown.
This play put the icing on the cake of what turned out to be a very solid effort from James Franklin’s squad.
Trace McSorley 7-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson vs. Iowa (2017)
A seven-yard slant to the back of the end zone may not be as creative as a jet sweep to the backup quarterback or a pass from the running back, but this play was one of the most important of Penn State’s season.
With four seconds on the clock and facing fourth and goal, Joe Moorhead needed to call the perfect play and his offensive unit needed to execute in order to escape a hostile Kinnick Stadium unscathed. All of this happened when Trace McSorley put a perfect pass right to Juwan Johnson in stride.
The best part of this play is the double move Johnson makes at the two-yard line to break free from the Iowa corner and get open for a touchdown. McSorley’s throw was just perfect — if he was a fraction of a second late on the throw, Iowa’s No. 5 would have batted the pass down or intercepted it.
Trace McSorley 54-yard Flea Flicker to DaeSean Hamilton vs. Indiana (2016)
Everybody loves a good, old-fashioned flea flicker. Joe Moorhead unveiled the timeless play as part of his offense in the fourth quarter against Indiana last season, a play that turned out to be massive in terms of the outcome of the game.
Although DaeSean Hamilton didn’t score on this play, it set up a four-yard rushing touchdown by Saquon Barkley to give the Nittany Lions the lead. Barkley was on fire at this point in the 2016 season, so a flea flicker was a perfect play to get the Hoosier defense to commit to stopping the star tailback, leaving Hamilton wide open behind the secondary.
Although Indiana responded with a score on the next possession, Penn State scored the next 14 points to pick up a big win en route to a Big Ten title.
Saquon Barkley 69-yard rushing touchdown vs. Michigan (2017)
This play is undoubtedly the nicest of Penn State’s last two seasons. Joe Moorhead threw a brand new play of his offense out on the Nittany Lions’ second offensive snap of the game against then-No. 19 Michigan. Coming in, most thought this would be a close game, but Saquon Barkley’s 69-yard scamper for a score set the tone for a game that ultimately turned into a blowout.
On the second play of Penn State’s first possession, Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley lined up in the shotgun, a typical pre-snap look behind the offensive line. Just before the snap, both of Penn State’s stars took one step to their left, a move that bamboozled Michigan’s defense. Barkley faked a handoff to McSorley, surveyed what was in front of him, and then used his pure speed to take off. He made it to the end zone untouched to give the Nittany Lions the lead.
This play was a stroke of genius from Moorhead on one of the biggest stages in college football.