2007 Penn State Preview - Offense
Penn State Nittany Lion Offense
Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: Known for being button-down
conservative, now it's time for Penn State to open the offense
up. At least, that's what it has to do to play to the team's
strengths. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best
in the league with three great targets in Deon Butler, Derrick
Williams and Jordan Norwood, and an all-star-to-be in tight end
Andrew Quarless. If senior quarterback Anthony Morelli is
consistent and gets the ball to his speedy receivers deep, the
passing game will be fantastic. The line, despite the loss of
Levi Brown, will be excellent with the expected emergence of
tackles Dennis Landolt and Gerald Cadogan, but the real question
mark will be running back Austin Scott. The one time star
recruit Austin Scott has to finally show he can be the workhorse
for the running game. If not, it'll be throw, throw and throw
Passing: Anthony Morelli
208-386, 2,424 yds, 11 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Rodney Kinlaw
39 carries, 199 yds, 0 TD
Receiving: Deon Butler
48 catches, 637 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Anthony Morelli
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior RB
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Dennis Landolt
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Derrick Williams (as a kick
Top three all-star candidates: 1) TE Andrew Quarless, 2) Williams, 3)
WR Deon Butler
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: And now, the training
wheels come off. 6-4, 232-pound senior Anthony Morelli
was a top recruit with a live arm and pro potential, but he
struggled to be a factor in the quarterback derby over his first
two seasons, and was average last year with only eight touchdown
passes and eight interceptions after throwing for three scores
in the season opener against Akron. However, the light seemed to
go on in the Outback Bowl with a better-than-the-stats-show 14
of 25, 197-yard, one touchdown performance in the win over
Tennessee. More than anything else, he appeared to be more
decisive, and he beat a really good team after lousy outings in
losses to Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Now he'll get to
throw more, bomb away more, and be the main man for the offense
rather than just a caretaker.
Projected Top Reserve: 6-2, 232-pound junior
Daryll Clark got a little bit of work completing 14 of 27
passes for 116 yards, but most of his production came on the
ground with 48 yards and three touchdowns. Thrown to the wolves
against Michigan when Morelli got knocked out, he wasn't awful
before suffering a concussion. He has great size, a live arm,
and tremendous mobility, but he needs more live action to be
ready to assume a bigger role if something happens to Morelli.
Watch Out For ... Morelli to come up with a huge
year. He completed 54% of his passes for 2,424 yards and 11
touchdowns last year, and now that the passing game will have to
play a bigger role, and with the receiving corps he has to work
with, 25 touchdown passes and 3,000 yards are attainable goals.
Strength: Big arms. Morelli and Clark can throw
the ball a mile. They each have the type of guns to make every
pass needed to stretch the field and utilize all the team's
Weakness: Morelli's rushing skills. He's not immobile, and he
can get a few yards here and there, but he's not going to tear
off any big runs.
Outlook: It's time for Morelli to be a major
player. As he goes, so goes the 2007 Penn State season. If he's
great, the offense will hum and the Nittany Lions will be Big
Ten title contenders. If he struggles, or even has a season like
last year, Penn State will be an also-ran. Clark is an
interesting backup option, but it would be nice if there were
more viable contenders for the number two job.
Projected Starters: Once in a while,
ultra-talented Penn State players go from disappointing to
tremendous as seniors. Michael Robinson grew into the best
player in the Big Ten as a senior. Larry Johnson became a legend
as a senior. Now it's time for 6-0, 222-pound super-recruit
Austin Scott to finally be the player Nittany Lion fans
thought they were getting when he came to Happy Valley as one of
the nation's top high school players. He appeared to be ready to
break out after stepping in for Tony Hunt in the 2006 Orange
Bowl and carried the offense with 110 yards and two touchdowns,
but he suffered an ankle injury early last year and missed the
entire season. That turned out to be a positive, since now he's
able to start and become the main man. He has the power, he has
the quickness, and he has the time in the system with 911 career
yards with eight touchdowns.
Potentially playing a bigger role will be senior fullback
Matt Hahn, who gets replaced most of the time by a receiver
in three-wide sets. While the 236-pounder might not be a
devastating blocker, he can be used as a receiver and a runner.
Don't be shocked if he's used a bit as a powerful, big tailback.
Projected Top Reserves: If Scott turns out to be
unable to carry the workload, it'll be up to senior Rodney
Kinlaw to help out. He's 5-9, 201 pounds, and fast with a
5.1 average last year and 199 yards. Able to be used as a kick
returner, he's a good open field runner who adds more burst than
Backing up Hahn will be 6-2, 244-pound senior Dan Lawlor,
who'll see a couple of carries, but will be used mostly as a
blocker. He's a good athlete who can get a few passes his way.
Watch Out For ... some serious breath holding every
time Scott gets up slowly. Kinlaw is decent, but if Scott isn't
a star on a regular basis, the running game won't go anywhere.
Strength: Fullback. No one uses fullbacks anymore,
and that includes Penn State, but Hahn and Lawlor can each play
and can contribute in a variety of ways. Don't be shocked if
these two combine for a good deal of the workload.
Weakness: Speed. Kinlaw can move, but he doesn't have the
blazing wheels he had before suffering a knee injury a few years
ago. Unless receiver Derrick Williams is getting the ball,
there's almost not a home run hitter in the backfield.
Outlook: It's not a good thing if you have to rely
on Austin Scott for a 12 or 13 game season. He could step up to
the challenge and come up with a 1,000-yard campaign, but he's
not going to do what Tony Hunt did last year (1,386 yards and 11
touchdowns) and he has never carried the full workload for more
than a game. The coaching staff will have to manufacture ways to
get rushing yards at times.
Projected Starters: Is this the year junior
Derrick Williams lives up to the hype? One of the
nation's top recruits two years ago, he's been a mediocre
receiver with just 62 catches for 729 yards and two touchdowns.
However, he missed the second half of his freshman season with a
broken arm, and he's been tremendous as a punt returner,
averaging 12 yards per return so far. With 4.3 speed and great
moves in the open field, he gets a few carries here and there as
the coaching staff does what it can to get him in the open
field. Now that Anthony Morelli knows what he's doing, he should
push the ball down the field even more, meaning Williams should
finally break out.
While Williams has received the national attention, former
walk-on defensive back Deon Butler has been a producer
with 85 catches for ,13,38 yards and 11 touchdowns in two years.
He was steady throughout last year as the number one targets,
and blew up against Northwestern with 11 catches for 216 yards.
With enough speed to be used as a deep threat, and reliable
hands, he's a true number one, go-to receiver.
Returning at tight end is sophomore Andrew Quarless, who
had a great true freshman year catching 21 passes for 288 yards
and two touchdowns. At 6-5 and 252 pounds, he's a big target who
can block a little bit, but his real strength is his downfield
speed. With his combination of size, strength and quickness, he
poses major matchup problems.
Projected Top Reserves: Behind Butler, and in
three-wide sets, will be junior Jordan Norwood, who was
part of the big recruiting class of a few years ago and has come
through with 77 catches in two seasons and finishing as the
team's number two receiver last year with 45 grabs for 472 yards
and two touchdowns. Extremely quick, he always finds ways to get
Playing behind Williams on one side will once again be
senior Terrell Golden after making six catches for 120
yards. He has 6-3 size and has been a big play target when he
gets the ball his way, but he hasn't produced enough over the
course of his career.
Considering the lack of upside for Golden, true sophomore
Chris Bell will see more work behind Williams after catching
five passes for 66 yards. At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he has good
size with excellent deep speed. While he might get lost in the
shuffle, he should make a few big plays.
More of a fullback than a true tight end, sophomore Mickey
Shuler is a good blocker with nice potential as a receiver.
The son of the former NFL tight end by the same name. he'll play
a bigger role behind Quarless.
Watch Out For ... Williams to start to be what
everyone has been expecting. He hasn't been bad by any means,
but he hasn't been the number one, all-world star he was
supposed to be right off the bat. This is the key season to see
if he can turn the corner and use all his talent to become
Strength: Experience and speed. Butler, Williams
and Norwood seem like they've been around forever, and they're
only juniors. There's no reason to think that the trio, who
improved from their freshman to sophomore years, can't make yet
another jump in production.
Weakness: Scorers. It's nitpicking, and Butler was a touchdown
maker as a freshman, but the big three (Butler, Williams and
Norwood) combined for just five touchdowns last season. That was
a function of the offense, and the inconsistent play at
quarterback, but there have to be more scores.
Outlook: It's time to hit stride. The receiving
corps has been great so far considering it hasn't exactly had
Peyton Manning throwing the ball, and now it should blow up.
Williams is only going to produce more, Norwood is as reliable a
number three receiver as any in the Big Ten, and Butler is a
steady star. With all the attention paid to the receiver,
Quarless should come up with an All-Big Ten season with around
Projected Starters: The line should be
fine, but there's a big hole needing to be filled at left tackle after
the loss of Levi Brown to graduation. Fortunately, 6-5, 313-pound junior
Gerald Cadogan appears to be ready to step in and shine. The
Academic All-American after starting at left guard over the first half
of the season. A bruising run blocker, he's also a phenomenal athlete
for his size.
Slipping into the left guard job will be 6-4, 305-pound redshirt
freshman Lou Eliades. More of a tackle playing guard, he'll be
excellent in pass protection early on, but will be the X factor in the
overall production. He's the one projected starter who isn't a sure
The one who is a sure-thing, either at right tackle or left, is 6-4,
294-pound sophomore Dennis Landolt, who had a tremendous spring
and appears to be the next great Nittany Lion blocker. A phenomenal pass
blocker who appears ready to star from day one as a starter, he's ready
to play a big role after getter far stronger this off-season.
With the emergence of Landolt and Cadogan, 6-4, 303-pound senior John
Shaw will move to right guard. While he was tough, and is athletic,
he wasn't always a rock in pass protection. Even so, he was productive,
and should shine at his new spot. He got better as last season wore on,
before going down with an ankle injury, and could move back outside if
Anchoring the line in the middle is 6-1, 293-pound senior A.Q.
Shipley, the only lineman to start every game last season. The
former defensive lineman is versatile enough to play guard, but he
appears to have settled into a role where he'll be the leader and likely
All-Big Ten performer.
Projected Top Reserves: The line suffered a big
blow when Elijah Robinson was forced to retire due to a spine problem,
and while Shaw will be a rock, it also means 6-2, 284-pound junior
Mike Lucian might end up playing a big role. A defensive end by
trade, he's a physical blocker, making up for his lack of bulk.
The top backup will be 6-2, 289-pound senior Rich Ohrnberger, who
started the last nine games of the year at right guard. He'll move over
to combine with Eliades at left guard, and while he's not a dominant
blocker, he's good enough to start, and he's one of the team's most
Looking for work at one of the tackle spots will be 6-2, 288-pound
junior Austin Hinton, a career reserve who got stronger in the
off-season and should be more of a producer. He saw a little bit of
garbage time last year, and now he'll play behind Landolt on the right
Watch Out For ... the tackles. It's not a stretch to
say the production will be just as good with Eliades and Landolt on the
outside in play of Brown and Shaw. The two new starters are that
Strength: Athleticism. Where are the typical Penn
State road graders? This is a lean, athletic line without a lot a
mega-beef. Almost everyone is around 290 to 310 pounds, and everyone can
Weakness: Experience at tackle. Fine, so you don't just replace
a Levi Brown without some drop-off in production. Several things have to
happen for a big year, and that includes a good season from Eliades,
consistency at the tackles, and quickly developed depth.
Outlook: Considering the line was a bit of a
concern going into last year, this year's front five should be fine.
Shipley and Shaw are nice pieces to work around, while Cadogan and
Landolt have serious all-star potential. The backups need to be
developed in a hurry to allow for more of a rotation, and there will be
problems if the starting five isn't always together, like it wasn't able
to be throughout last year. Even so, the line is hardly a weakness, and
it could develop into one of the team's strengths.