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2010 Penn State Preview – Ofense
Penn State WR Derek Moye
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Penn State Nittany Lion Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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Penn State Offense
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What You Need To Know: Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line. The receiving corps that was such a concern last year turned out to be fine and will be a strength this season. Evan Royster will almost certainly end up as the school’s all-time leading rusher, and his backups, Stephfon Green and Curtis Dukes, can carry the ground game at times. The quarterback situation will end up being fine with sophomore Kevin Newsome a talented player who’ll have to work out the kinks early on, but will have help from his supporting cast. However, he needs time. The line will provide that (pass protection wasn’t a problem last year), but pounding away for the ground game was an issue. Injuries, inconsistencies, and a lack of continuity led to a disappointing year from the front five, and now there’s some reshuffling being done. If the line is good, the rest of the offense will be strong again.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Evan Royster
Passing: Kevin Newsome
8-11, 66 yds
Rushing: Evan Royster
205 catches, 1,169 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Derek Moye
48 catches, 785 yds, 6 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Quinn Barham
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Curtis Drake
Best pro prospect: Royster
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Royster, 2) OG Stefen Wisniewski, 3) WR Derek Moye
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Proven Run Blocking, Quarterback Experience
Projected Starter: It might take a while, and there will be some big mistakes along the way, but sophomore Kevin Newsome looks the part with 6-2, 220-pound size, good smarts, and natural leadership skills. Now he has to show he can throw a forward pass. A good athlete with a live arm, the tools are there, but he wasn’t accurate in practices this offseason and he didn’t do enough to keep the offense moving. The upside is immense and he has a little bit of experience completing 8-of-11 throws in a limited time last year while adding 95 rushing yards, but early on he won’t get to open up the playbook and will be more of a runner than a smooth, polished passer.
Projected Top Reserves: The clear third man in the mix last year, sophomore Matt McGloin is being given every shot at the starting job this season. While he struggled throughout spring ball and couldn’t stop trying to give the ball to the defense in a rough spring game, he has a good arm and is a decent scrambler with the ability to grow into a good backup in time. At 6-1 and 204 pounds, he’s not all that big and he’s not nearly the same athlete or talent that Kevin Newsome is.
New recruit Paul Jones fits the Penn State prototype of quarterback with 6-3, 226-pound size, good mobility, and a big-time arm. While he’s good on the move, he’ll be at his best when he gets time in the pocket to push the ball down the field. He’s not ready to see time right away and he’ll need time and seasoning, but pencil him in as the starter in 2013 and the key backup behind Kevin Newsome next year.
Watch Out For … Newsome to be terrific. Daryll Clark was a good player and a peerless leader, but Newsome is a more talented player with better all-around skills. While he might make more mistakes than Clark did over the last two years, he’ll have a great statistical year.
Strength: Mobility. It’s not like the Penn State quarterbacks are going to be flying all over the field and running for hundreds of yards, but they can all take off from time to time and they can all get into the end zone. They’re not statues.
Weakness: Time logged in. Clark was such a rock that Newsome and McGloin never got their chances to shine. Penn State isn’t starting the season cold, but there will be an adjustment period.
Outlook: Daryll Clark led the Nittany Lions to a Rose Bowl, a big bowl win over LSU last year, and was a long-time leader who provided smarts and toughness for the offense. Newsome will be excellent with a little bit of time as he fits exactly what the team wants to do, and with a little more skill than Clark. McGloin and Jones are talented backups who can step in if desperately needed. The team can win with McGloin game managing.
Unit Rating: 6.5
Projected Starters: Franco Harris, Curt Warner, John Cappelletti, Ki-Jana Carter, Blair Thomas, Larry Johnson, Curtis Enis … senior Evan Royster could turn out to be the most productive Penn State running back ever needing just 482 yards to pass Lydell Mitchell as the school’s all-time leading rusher. Along the way, he could be a top five pick in next year’s draft. With 6-1, 213-pound size, smarts, and breakaway speed, he has all the tools to be phenomenal at the next level, but first he has to carry the offense with so many issues with the quarterbacks and the passing game. Working behind a mediocre line (by Penn State standards), he tore off 1,169 yards and six touchdowns last year, but scored only twice on the ground over the final eight games. With a few breaks and good healthy, he could easily double his scoring production and could run for well over 1,500 yards. He has had problems with a sprained knee and a bad ankle in the past, but he has been relatively durable.
Projected Top Reserves: There’s no question that Evan Royster is the No. 1 back, but junior Stephfon Green is a talented back who could quickly step in and blow up. After running for 578 yards and four scores as a freshman, he was limited last year with 319 yards and three scores averaging 4.5 yards per carry while catching six passes for 80 yards after coming back from a broken leg suffered in the Rose Bowl loss to USC. The 5-10, 197-pounder is one of the team’s fastest players and is a home run hitting threat every time he touches the ball, and now he’s back to 100% (he also missed time with an ankle injury) and should be dangerous.
The offense didn’t use a fullback on a regular basis, but junior Joe Suhey got the not at fullback for the opener against Akron and the regular season finale against Michigan State. While he only ended up running for 68 yards on the year, the 6-1, 236-pounder is a strong blocker and a tremendous receiver catching 21 passes for 186 yards and a score highlighted by a nice play against the Spartans.
Ready to play a big role is Curtis Dukes , a nice recruit last year who brings excellent speed along with 6-2, 235-pound size. The redshirt freshman is a power runner who can move inside or out, and while there isn’t a lot of wiggle to his style, he has great straight-line wheels and could be the type of wear-down runner can dominate late in games as long as he can hang on to the ball. Fumbling was an issue this offseason.
Watch Out For … Royster to start to get more publicity. It’s a really, really big accomplishment to be the all-time leading Penn State rusher, and he has the talent to be a top NFL pick if everything breaks right. Will he have a monster senior campaign like Larry Johnson did in 2002? Don’t be shocked if he does.
Strength: Talent. With Royster and Green, the Nittany Lions have one of the best combinations of backs this side of Alabama. The running game was mediocre by Penn State standards last year, but if the line is better (like it’s expected to be), then the production will come.
Weakness: Consistency and production in the big games. Royster ran for over 100 yards in six games last season, but he was kept to 65 by LSU, 36 by Ohio State, and 69 against Iowa. For a back of his talent, six touchdown runs with just two in the final eight games of the year are paltry. Green, for all his speed and skills, needs to crank out more than 319 yards.
Outlook: Expect more of the same. Royster is a mortal lock for more than 1,000 yards while Green should be able to tear off more production this year. Throw in Dukes as a nice No. 3 and the running ability of QB Kevin Newsome, and 2,500 rushing yards (after running for 2,207 last year) is an easily attainable goal.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Projected Starters: While it’s a bit of a stretch to call junior Derek Moye a true No. 1 target, he led the team with 48 catches for 785 yards and six touchdowns averaging 16.4 yards per grab. The tools and the talent are there with 6-5, 198-pound size and sub-4.4, Pennsylvania state champion speed with deep ball tracking skills and the hands to make the midrange catch across the middle. The former running back will always be a bit thin, but he handles himself well and turned out to be more polished than expected.
Senior Graham Zug wasn’t always as flashy as Derek Moye, but he came up with a very steady, very good season catching 46 passes for 600 yards and seven scores including three against Michigan and two against Michigan State. At 6-2 and 183 pounds, the former walk-on has decent size, and while he’s not the best athlete among the fleet Nittany Lion receivers, he’s able to do the little things right with tough catches across the middle and good blocks down the field.
The Nittany Lions need a strong No. 3 receiver, and the hope is that 5-11, 169-pound sophomore Curtis Drake can grow into one. The former Pennsylvania all-state high school quarterback got his feet wet as a true freshman catching eight passes for 98 yards, rushing for 24 yards on four carries, and throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass against Michigan State. Extremely quick, he’ll be dangerous when he works on the inside and fast deep when at the outside X.
There’s a huge hole to fill at tight end where both Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler are gone, and junior Andrew Szczerba appears ready to take over. With great size and wide receiver-like fans, he has the package to do a little bit of everything for the offense. The 2006 Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year was a star high school defensive end and has spent most of his career as a special teamer. He only caught one pass for six yards last year and now he should be a decent safety valve.
Projected Top Reserves:
Senior Brett Brackett didn’t get much work thrown his way, making three catches for 13 yards with a score, but he was a great blocker and was considered an excellent leader for a young and emerging receiving corps. At 6-6 and 232 pounds he’s a huge target who can make the short to midrange play without a problem, and he has the experience to be used more in a rotation with Derek Moye. He made 13 catches for 160 yards and a score as a sophomore.
True sophomore Justin Brown got his feet wet making five catches for 78 yards, and he has the explosion to become a playmaker in the rotation with Graham Zug. At 6-3 and 208 pounds he has the size to go along with the impressive speed and athleticism to grow into a top target, and he can also be used as a punt returner getting seven tries for 41 yards including a 20-yarder against Eastern Illinois and a key 18-yarder against LSU.
After originally committing to Rutgers, redshirt freshman Shawney Kersey signed on with Penn State and now will work behind Curtis Drake. At 6-2 and 190 pounds he’s bigger and more physical than Drake to go along with blazing speed; he’s a big-time deep threat option. He’s not afraid to go across the middle and he’s a good athlete who can make the tough catch. Now he needs a chance.
At 6-6 and 245 pounds, redshirt freshman Garry Gilliam is a tall and athletic receiving tight end who can block a little bit. He’s good enough to be used in a variety of ways. Working a bit as a defensive end in practices, he’s physical and has the quickness to get up the field in a hurry as a receiver.
Watch Out For … Drake. While Zug and Moye are the clear stars of the show, Drake has been so impressive and so good that the team’s fourth leading receiver, Chaz Powell, could be moved to corner.
Strength: A mix. Last year there was a concern over the lack of experience with so many fresh faces seeing time. This year there are good veterans working with the young up-and-coming stars like Drake, Brown and Kersey. The targets are there to give the passing game several options.
Weakness: Clicking with the quarterbacks. Did the receivers make Darryl Clark look good or vice versa? Having a sixth-year senior throwing to the new receivers helped make the passing game go, and now there’s going to be an adjustment period to Kevin Newsome. That’s not to say that things will fall off the map, but this isn’t going to be as efficient an attack.
Outlook: The Nittany Lions reloaded after losing four-year producers Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood, and now the receiving corps goes from being a position of question to a strength. With good speed, size, and options, the receivers are there to come up with a big year.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: In one of the biggest moves of the offseason, all-star center Stefen Wisniewski moved over to a more natural right guard spot. The 6-3, 297-pound veteran was one of the line’s only bright spots last year and continues to be one of the nation’s best technicians. The nephew of former Penn State and NFL star, Steve, he’s physical for the ground game and moves extremely well. While he’s not massive by next-level standards, and he might end up having a future as a center or a zone-blocking guard, he’ll end up earning All-America honors as the anchor of a resurgent line.
With Wisniewski moving, senior Doug Klopacz will step in at center. At 6-3 and 284 pounds, he’s not huge but he’s solid after spending last year as a key reserve. Healthy again after suffering a torn ACL two years ago, he’s strong enough to be ready to step in and be more than fine. He won’t be Wisniewski, but he’ll be steady.
While all eyes are on the quarterback situation as the team’s most interesting offensive change, the bigger issue could be at the all-important left tackle job where inexperienced junior Quinn Barham is getting the chance. A career backup seeing six games of action last year at guard, now he’ll have to prove he can be a steady pass blocker on the outside. At 6-3 and 290 pounds he has the frame and the feet, but he has to show the consistency needed for the spot. He had a strong offseason, but the spotlight will be on.
6-4, 310-pound senior Lou Eliades spent all of last year at right guard, but now he’ll move a step over taking over at right tackle. He has a little tackle experience, getting the nod in the 2009 Rose Bowl, and he has the experience and the size to be fine in the new position. He missed most of 2007 with a broken foot, but he proved last year to be well past the injury and he’ll be one of the team’s most versatile blockers once again.
Junior DeOn’tae Pannell started off the first four games last year at right tackle, struggled, and finished the year starting the final three games at left guard. Now he’ll stick at guard as an athletic 6-5, 300-pound blocker with special tools and the potential to be far better. Consistency has been a problem and he struggled in pass protection, but he started to grow into the guard job last year and should shine over the next two seasons if he can get a little more physical for the ground game.
Projected Top Reserves: If it’s not DeOn’tae Pannell at left guard, it’ll be up to Johnnie Troutman to return to his spot. The 6-4, 309-pound junior started for most of last year getting the nod eight times at left guard before giving way to Pannell after suffering a calf injury. One of the team’s strongest players with the athleticism to see time at tackle if needed, he’s a key part of the puzzle and will be used in a variety of ways. Thinner, he should be better on the move.
6-5, 292-pound sophomore Matt Stankiewitch started the first two games at left guard before everyone got healthy. He ended up playing a key role as a backup across the line and will work early on as a backup at center. Extremely quick and with good experience, he’ll see time in the rotation somewhere in the interior.
Can Chima Okoli actually play at left tackle? The 6-4, 293-pound junior started out his career at defensive tackle and he doesn’t appear to be a natural pass blocker, but he has the potential to grow as a backup. He’s not polished by any means, but he’s extremely strong and should be good with a lot of work.
Watch Out For … Barham. It’s not a stretch to call his development the key to the season. The line needs a steady left tackle to replace Dennis Landolt, and Barham looked the part this offseason.
Strength: Versatility. For good, and partly for bad, the coaching staff can reshuffle the deck without much of a problem. The linemen aren’t exactly interchangeable, but the idea is to put the five best blockers on the line regardless of position. There might be a little bit of rough patches and a lack of consistency at times, but changes can be made if things aren’t working.
Weakness: Production. It’s a major overstatement to say the line was a weakness last season considering it allowed just 17 sacks, but the run blocking wasn’t anywhere near as good as it should’ve been. It’s a good line, but this is Penn State; it’s supposed to be a great line.
Outlook: Injuries, too much shuffling, and not enough blocking against the better teams made 2009 a disappointment. The talent is there and this could be one of the most athletic Nittany Lion lines in years, but it has prove early on that it can line up and blast someone. The pass protection will be great, but to win the Big Ten title, a cohesive front five combination has to be settled on from the start.
Unit Rating: 7.5
- 2010 Penn State Preview |
Penn State Offense
2010 Penn State Defense |
Penn State Depth Chart
- Penn State Previews