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Penn State Football Needs to Get Moore from K.J. Hamler

by on March 28, 2019 9:10 PM

K.J. Hamler needs to get moore touches in 2019.

Moore. As in Rondale Moore.

Hamler, the speedy Nittany Lion receiver with the motor mouth, averaged just over 6 touches per game as a redshirt freshman last season.

That’s counting runs, catches and kick and punt returns. Not a very high number.

When Hamler did touch the ball, he did amazing things with it — averaging a stunning 17.71 yards per touch.

Overall, he gained 1,417 yards on just 80 touches.

Hamler’s per-touch average bettered what Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers (12.44 yards per touch, 1972), Notre Dame’s Tim Brown (14.2 yards, 1987) and Michigan’s Desmond Howard (17.24 yards, 1991) did in their Heisman Trophy seasons.

And it’s more than Penn State’s best-ever true multi-purpose man, O.J. McDuffie, did in 1992, when he averaged 16.1 yards while rushing for 133 yards, receiving 977 yards, and returning 721 yards (323 KR, 398 PR).

K.J. needs to be more like O.J.

Hamler’s head coach gets it. In fact, he is A-OK with it.

“On offense, it’s all about touches,” Franklin said on Wednesday night.

“How many touches does a Saquon Barkley get? How many touches does a Miles (Sanders) get? How many touches does K.J. get?”

The answer to that last one: Not nearly enough.

MOORE TO COMPARE WITH

Take Moore, Purdue’s freshman phenom in 2018. Moore had an even hundred more touches more than Hamler did (180 vs. 80) and averaged 124.5 yards per game.

Hamler was more explosive, gaining 109 yards per game on almost half the touches. Moore averaged just 8.99 yards per touch — nearly 9 ards less than Hamler — but he controlled more games for the Boilermakers. He had 16 TDs vs. just 6 for Hamler.

Size-wise, they are almost equal: Moore is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds. Hamler is 5-9 and 168. But Moore showed up a lot bigger in Purdue’s game plans. As a result, Rondale carried more of the freight — and the ball. Much moore.

In 2018, Moore had 21 rushes, 114 receptions, 33 kickoff returns and 12 punt returns.

By contrast, Hamler had 4 rushes, 42 receptions, 20 kickoff returns and 14 kickoff returns.

In 2019, with Sanders, Trace McSorley and Juwan Johnson all gone, the Nittany Lions must replace that trio's combined career 803 rushes, receptions and returns, as well as their 5,454 total career yards running, receiving and returning.

How?

Hamler is No. 1. In jersey number and in man up.

“When you’ve got a young football team,” Franklin said, “when you’re waiting for some guys to make the next step, then you have to lean on your playmakers a little bit more than normal.”

K.J. has yet to pull a Keyshawn Johnson — we emphasize “yet” — but sometimes you think it’s inside him. Johnson, the notable and very loud receiver, once wrote a whole book about it:

“Just get me the damn ball.”

Off the field, it may take an entire village — Franklin, second-year play-caller Ricky Rahne (whose offense averaged just 24 points per game in the final nine contests of 2018), new wide receivers coach Gerad Parker and new special teams czar Joe Lorig — to make that happen.

On the field, it will be up to quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford, both of whom would be new to a starting role. Lots of “new” going on there, in case you didn’t notice.

If Hamler finishes 2019 with just six touches per game again, it will be a damn shame. And maybe a fail of Shakespearean proportions.

Apt, perhaps, given that the title of the British playwright’s longest work is called, eerily enough, The Tragedy of Hamler…er, Hamlet.

 



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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