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Penn State Preview 2006 - Offense
Penn State Nittany Lions
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 5, 2006


Penn State Nittany Lions Preview 2006 - PSU Offense

What you need to know ... Anthony Morelli will be fine. The highly touted prospect should be a steady, productive quarterback with some fantastic receivers to throw to and two veteran running backs to hand off to. Tony Hunt is an unsung producer who should crank out another 1,000-yard season even with Austin Scott getting a little more work. Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood forms one of the nation's best young receiving corps. The offensive line will be an issue with only one returning starter, but that one, tackle Levi Brown, is among the best around. The attack won't crank out 422 yards and 34.4 points per game again, but it'll be effective.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Anthony Morelli
13-20, 155 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Tony Hunt
174 carries, 1,047 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Deon Butler
37 catches, 691 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OT Levi Brown
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Anthony Morelli
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Gerald Cadogan
Best pro prospect: Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) WR Derrick Williams, 3) RB Tony Hunt
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers, running back experience
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line

Quarterbacks
Michael Robinson was the Big Ten's best player last season rushing for 806 yards and 11 touchdowns, passing for 2,350 yards, and leading the team to the conference title. Now it's up to Anthony Morelli, a prospect Penn State fans have been waiting to see shine for a few years, to grow into an efficient leader. He has the weapons around him to get the offense moving, but he's not going to have the veteran line to work behind that Robinson enjoyed. Paul Cianciolo is a big bomber who should see his share of time.
The key to the unit: Don't press. As good as Michael Robinson was last year, the Nittany Lions finished tenth in the league in passing and seventh in efficiency. Anthony Morelli has to improve on that while not making too many mistakes.
Quarterback Rating: 7

Projected Starter
- Anthony Morelli, Jr. - 13-20, 155 yds, 65%, 1 TD, 1 rushing touchdown
O.K. hotshot; time to shine. The star recruit of a few years ago wasn't anything special early in his career, but he appears ready to become the steady passer now that he has been in the system for a few years. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, he has the size, the athleticism, and now, the poise to be a great leader for the offense. With the weapons he ahs to work with, he should put up fantastic passing numbers. While not Michael Robinson running the ball, he can move.

Top Backups
- Paul Cianciolo, Soph.
The 6-4, 222-pound sophomore was better than current starter Anthony Morelli is 2005 spring practices, but he couldn't get past the number three spot. Now the big bomber will be the number two man in the mix with good smarts, a live arm, and a little bit of experience.

- Kevin Suhey, RFr.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because he's the fourth generation of Suhey to play under Joe Paterno. While not huge, the 6-1, 200-pound Suhey has a decent arm and is a smart student of the game. While not a runner, he's not immobile.

Running Backs
It seems like Tony Hunt and Austin Scott have been around since the beginning of the Joe Paterno era. They're solid veterans who should combine for at least 1,500 yards with more work on their shoulders after the loss of running quarterback Michael Robinson. The should form a solid 1-2 punch with the speedy Rodney Kinlaw getting a little more work. BranDon Snow is one of the Big Ten's better fullbacks.
The key to the unit: More big plays. The offense has to use receivers way too often when it's looking for a spark from the ground game.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Tony Hunt, Sr. - 174 carries, 1,047 yds, 6 ypc, 6 TD, 20 catches, 206 yds, 10.3 ypc
While he's not the fastest back around, the 230-pound senior has had to carry the load at times over the last few years and grew into an unsung (at least early on) all-around player with five, 100-yard games highlighted by a 151-yard, two touchdown day against Wisconsin. The Second Team All-Big Ten performer was the offense in 2004 when things weren't going well, and now he'll be the workhorse for the running game early on.

- Fullback BranDon Snow, Sr. - 10 carries, 25 yds, 2.4 ypc, 3 TD, 2 catches, 12 yds
While he gets a little bit of work as a short-yardage runner, the 6-1, 242-pound senior is known for being a fantastic lead blocker. The former linebacker was one of the unnoticed key cogs of last year's offense who showed no ill-effects of a broken foot suffered a few years ago.

Top Backups
- Austin Scott, Sr. - 66 carries, 273 yds, 4.1 ypc, 3 TD, 3 catches, 27 yds, 9 ypc
The one-time superstar recruit has been a mega-disappointment, but he came through in the Orange Bowl when starter Tony Hunt went down running 26 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He's effective when he gets a little bit of work, but he has rarely been allowed to get into a lather except in garbage time. At 209 pounds, he provides decent power with good bounce-to-the-outside quickness.
- Rodney Kinlaw, Jr. - 18 carries, 34 yards, 2 touchdowns
The speedy Kinlaw saw a few carries with the most work coming in garbage time against Illinois, but he really made his mark as a kick returner once Derrick Williams went down averaging 29.6 yards on eight returns. He lit up the poor Illini for 109 yards on two kickoff returns. While fast, he lost a little bit off his fastball after a knee injury earlier in his career.
- Fullback Matt Hahn, Jr. - 2 carries, 9 yds
Quick enough to play tailback and big enough to be an effective fullback, the 230-pound junior has decent hands and should be used more behind BranDon Snow.


Receivers
The receiving corps didn't quite turn into the immediate killer many were hoping it would be, but it showed a ton of potential to grow into something special. Top recruit Derrick Williams was on his way to a nice year before breaking his arm, but that allowed for Jordan Norwood to see more meaningful time. Deon Butler emerged as the team's best receiver last season and should, at the very least, be a sensational number two target next to Williams. Patrick Hall and Mark Farris should be able to replace Isaac Smolko without too much of a problem.
The key to the unit: Take the next step up. The green players of last year are all experienced and should grow into the Big Ten's best corps if everything breaks right.
Receiver Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- Derrick Williams, Soph. - 22 catches, 289 yds, 13.1 ypc, 1 TD, 22 carries, 105 yds, 4.8 ypc, 3 TD
The superstar recruit of last year didn't quite blow up like many thought he would, but he proved to be a nice kick-start for the stagnant offense. He has 4.3 speed and proved he can be clutch with the game-winning, last-minute touchdown catch against Northwestern. He was having a steady year before breaking his arm on a kick return in the loss to Michigan. Expect him to be used as a runner as well as a receiver and kick returner.

-
Deon Butler, Soph. - 37 catches, 691 yds, 18.7 ypc, 9 TD
While all the attention was paid to the star incoming freshmen last year, the former walk-on defensive back turned out to be the best target of the bunch leading the way in receiving and touchdown catches. Steady throughout the year, the speed sophomore blew up against Wisconsin with five catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

- Tight end Patrick Hall, Sr. - 2 catches, 6 yds, 2 TD
Expect Hall to shine as the new starting tight end. He's a good-blocking 6-1 and 242 pounds who caught three, three-yard touchdown passes last season in his backup role.

Top Backups
- Jordan Norwood, Soph. - 32 catches, 422 yds, 13.2 ypc, 2 carries, 24 yds
Norwood ended up being more productive than the more heralded freshman, Derrick Williams, after taking over the starting flanker job over the final three games. The quick true sophomore was the team's main receiving weapon in the Orange Bowl catching six passes for 110 yards.
- Terrell Golden, Jr. - 9 catches, 210 yds, 23.3 ypc, 1 TD
The 6-3 veteran hasn't made too many plays over the last few years, but he has been an occasional big-play target highlighted by a 47-yard touchdown catch against Central Michigan. He'll start out behind Derrick Williams and should see time in three-wide sets.
- Tight end Jordan Lyons, Soph.
The 6-4, 249-pound Lyons will be used as a receiver and a safety valve. The former quarterback has a little bit of experience with good hands.

Offensive Linemen
Only one starter returns to a group that was night-and-day better than 2004 when it didn't do much of anything. Levi Brown is an All-America talent who'll be the rock on the left side, and then the prayers go out hoping for everything to come together. There's size, a little bit of experience, and a few interesting prospects like guard Gerald Cadogan, but this will be the team's biggest concern going into the season.

The key to the unit: Pass protection. Anthony Morelli isn't as mobile as Michael Robinson and will need a few extra ticks to make the passing game consistently effective. .
Offensive Line Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- OT Levi Brown, Sr.
One of the nation's best offensive linemen, the 6-5, 328-pound senior was an All-American last year and now has to be even better as the only returning starter to the line. He's a durable, dominant all-around blocker who'll be the one the offense runs behind.
- OG Gerald Cadogan, Soph.
A phenomenal athlete, the 6-5, 311-pound sophomore will look to take over for Charles Rush on the left side. Expected to grow into the starting role and be a mainstay over the next three years, he'll benefit by playing next to Levi Brown.
- C A.Q. Shipley, Soph.
The former defensive lineman moved over to the offensive line early last year seeing time at center and guard before moving back to the defensive side. While the 297-pound sophomore will start out in the middle, he could end up being moved around where needed.
- OG Robert Price, Sr.
Price didn't play last year and now has battle with Greg Harrison to take over for the steady Tyler Reed at right guard. At 299 pounds, Price is a bigger option than Harrison with a great motor and the versatility to play center in an emergency.
- OT John Shaw, Jr.
Brother of defensive lineman, Jim Shaw, John will try to step in on the right side. He's an athletic 6-4 and 299 pounds, and will also be one of the team's most closely watched players; he needs to shine right away.

Top Backups
- OG Greg Harrison, Soph.
Harrison will get every shot at winning the starting right guard job battling with Robert Price. He's an athletic ant talented 6-3 and 290 pounds; it's just a question of time before he becomes a major factor.
- OT
Mark Farris, Sr.
The 292-pound Farris will combine with Chris Auletta to rotate with John Shaw at right tackle. With time at guard as well as tackle over his career, he has a little bit of experience and will be called on early if Shaw, a former defensive lineman, struggles.


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