Tight Ends Play Pivotal Role For Penn State Football In Iowa Win
Penn State football’s tight end trio of Theo Johnson, Tyler Warren, and Khalil Dinkins played a pivotal role in the Nittany Lion offense during its 31-0 shutout of Iowa in the White Out. The group combined for three touchdowns and 60 yards.
Three-fourths of Penn State’s touchdowns were scored by a tight end Saturday. Dinkins scored the first on a nine-yard reception in the opening quarter, while Warren scored the next two, with each play in the third quarter being two-yard and seven-yard receptions, respectively.
The game underscored the significance the position has had in James Franklin’s offenses at Penn State. While Saturday’s total yardage doesn’t pop off the charts, the three touchdowns do. But the tight ends don’t just catch touchdown passes — they’re versatile enough to do everything else.
“We got real tight ends that both block and are able to hurt you in the passing game,” Franklin said after the Nittany Lions’ opener against West Virginia.
Quarterback Drew Allar has benefitted the most from the tight ends’ performances. The group has been useful as pass catchers, but also as blockers and pile-pushers.
“The tight ends had a really good night,” Allar said after the Iowa game. “The QB sneaks are fun…the offensive line does a great job of getting that initial push up front and then Tyler and the backs in the backfield do a great job of pushing me forward.”
Allar and Warren have been developing chemistry as the season has progressed and the two have become more experienced playing with each other.
The connection the two have spent time building in practice and the offseason has been translating into real-world situations on the field. Warren was confident that Allar would end up throwing a good pass – the pass that he caught for his first touchdown.
“It’s a delay play and it’s worked out a lot in trusting Drew, he knows where I’m going to be and I know he’s going to find the right read,” Warren said after the Iowa game.
Although it has taken time, a connection is emerging between Allar and his tight ends. The group was not heavily involved in the first two games of the season, but there has been an uptick in targets, receiving yards, and touchdowns since the beginning of Penn State’s Big Ten schedule. Penn State targeted its tight ends 12 times Saturday and eight times against Illinois, which has made for 127 combined yards over the last two weeks.
Having reliable tight ends could help Allar, who is in his first year as a starter, to throw to or push him over the line to gain in 4th-and-1 situations. And while it remains to be seen how much longer he has to go in his development, the tight ends are emerging as viable options for Allar to find when he needs a reliable target.
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