Penn State Performs As Expected In Conference Honors
Trace McSorley, Miles Sanders, Ryan Bates, and Connor McGovern were awarded All-Big Ten honors on Wednesday. McSorley and Sanders landed on the second team, while Bates and McGovern were placed on the third team.
The Nittany Lions can’t have much to complain about as far as these honors are concerned. McSorley had another impressive year, but Dwayne Haskins put up record numbers in Columbus for No. 6 Ohio State. With 41 touchdowns through the air on the season, there was no doubt that Haskins would be the first-team choice.
The running back situation is a little different. Sanders out-rushed Michigan’s Karan Higdon — the first-team running back — in both total yards (1,223 vs. 1,178) and yards-per-attempt (5.9 vs. 5.3). He also had more receptions (22 vs. 7) and more receiving yards (132 vs. 43). If Sanders hadn’t coughed up the football so consistently this season, he’d probably be on that first team.
Bates and McGovern were clearly the best offensive linemen for Ricky Rahne’s unit this season. Still, the line as a whole struggled at times, especially compared to the likes of Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Badgers’ line allowed Jonathan Taylor to rush for nearly 2,000 yards, and three Wisconsin players made the first team. It’s probably somewhat unfair, but an offensive line that gave up 25 sacks in front of a mobile quarterback just won’t get much first-team respect when it comes to conference awards.
Perhaps the only potential snub from the three teams for Penn State was KJ Hamler. Hamler, however, was eighth among wide receivers in receptions and yards, a real signal of the surprising lack of a passing game at points this season in Happy Valley. Only six receivers make the three all-conference teams, so there wasn’t much space for the redshirt freshman.
Hamler did receive honorable mention honors at wide receiver, along with freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez. The young receiver was also an honorable mention for his work in the return game, which can probably be diagnosed as fair.
Really the only horrible snub was Yetur Gross-Matos in the coaches’ selection. The outstanding defensive end somehow ended up on the coaches’ third team, although he was on the media’s first team. In any case, Gross-Matos’ placement on the third team is just laughable.
All in all, the Nittany Lions landed basically where expected.
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The redshirt freshman has seen increased reps at wide receiver and punt returner this season.
Coming off another conference win, the Nittany Lions emphasized the importance of having each other’s backs in the midst of the Big Ten slate.
“Now, running out of the tunnel at a White Out, it gives you chills.”