Penn State Football Looking For Explosiveness On Offense
Despite the stellar start to Penn State football’s season, the team is missing one thing: big plays for big yards. The Nittany Lions might be 4-0, but they’ve consistently had to take long, slow drives down the field instead of making one big play to turn a game on its head.
Penn State wide receivers coach Marques Hagans acknowledged the role his group of receivers play in generating big plays for the offense.
“I do think a lot of the times when the big runs happen it’s not only the O-line’s doing their job, tight ends doing their job, but receivers finishing their job on the outside,” Hagans said Thursday. “I think we have some very special running backs, and I think they deserve the opportunity to be one-on-one with defenders.”
The Nittany Lions backfield features a pair of sophomores, Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, both of whom showed flashes of greatness in their true freshman seasons. Through four games in 2023, Singleton has seen his average yards per carry fall to 3.8 yards, a full three yards short of his 6.8 yards per carry mark in 2022. Singleton frequently broke off runs of 20-plus yards in his freshman year but has yet to eclipse that mark in his 53 rushing attempts this season.
Allen has experienced a drop-off in average yards per carry, 4.4 yards as opposed to 5.2 yards in 2022, though that difference isn’t as large as Singleton’s. However, like Singleton, Allen has yet to produce a run of 20-plus yards in his 2023 campaign.
Hagans also acknowledged the lack of explosive plays in the Nittany Lions’ passing game and said the offense planned to stay the course and keep putting themselves in the right situations to generate a big play.
“I think there are some things that haven’t lined up in that department,” Hagans said. “I think as long as we continue to stay true to the process, those opportunities will come.”
In the Nittany Lions’ big win over Iowa, quarterback Drew Allar threw for a mere 166 yards and has yet to eclipse 250 yards in one game since the season opener against West Virginia. However, he has yet to throw an interception, and in the same Iowa game, tossed four touchdown passes.
Finding success in explosive plays for big yards has been a theme for James Franklin since the beginning of the season. And while neither his running backs nor his quarterbacks have been able to generate many big plays over the season, Franklin has continued to stress their importance.
“We’ve got to be able to show that we can grind it out or be explosive,” Franklin said Tuesday. “Run the ball to win, pass the ball to win, and we need to grow and develop in the explosive play area.”
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About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
Fashanu is the Nittany Lions’ most recent First-Team All-American since Micah Parsons in 2019.
Johnson is the second Penn Stater to declare for the NFL Draft.