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See Trace Run: McSorley Rushes Toward Exclusive 9,000/2,000 Club

by on October 20, 2018 10:50 PM

BLOOMINGTON, IND. — Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley isn’t zeroing in on the exclusive 9,000-yard passing/2,000-yard running club because he wants to.

It’s because he has to.

He won’t tell you that. But circumstances have certainly dictated it.

Other than McSorley and running back Miles Sanders, the Nittany Lions are bereft of play-makers these days.

Lately and maybe unbelievably, the fifth-year senior is perhaps more valuable with his legs than he is with his arm, especially given the preponderance of drops and injuries and outright disappearances his receivers have put forth this season.

In fact, Penn State’s 33-28 victory over Indiana on a windy Saturday here marked the first time in his 35 games and 34 starts at PSU that he did not throw a touchdown pass. No matter. His feet have been (mostly) enough to fend off defeat.

“I don’t feel necessarily like (running the ball) is a responsibility,” McSorley said after 19 carries, 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Hoosiers — all Nittany Lion game-highs.

“But I think I can be factor in games running the ball. I think I can make a difference in games with my legs, and kind of being that dual threat. It at least keeps the defense on its heels and makes them have a guy there to spy (me) if they drop back in coverage. That takes a guy out of coverage or the rush.”

That in itself is a win, says McSorley.

“If I can make defenses do that, I think it makes defenses adjust and play us a little differently. If it’s there and I can make an impact in the game, that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a burden or responsibility or anything like that.”


For the second time in three weeks, McSorley led the Nittany Lions in both carries and rushing yardage. (He carried 25 times for 175 yards against Ohio State.) That’s quite a feat, since Sanders entered Saturday as the No. 10 overall rusher (with 700 yards) in all of major college football. Sanders had 15 carries for 72 yards against the Hoosiers but was just seven for 22 in the second half.

As a fellow ball-carrier, Sander appreciates what McSorley brings to the craft.

“I tell Trace that he needs to start sliding, since he runs like an actual running back and gets banged up after the game,” Sanders said. “Trace just has that mentality. He’ll do anything to get a touchdown.

“He’s physical. Sometimes, he’s even more physical than me. I’m always looking to score, but he’s always looking to get that first down. He’s looking for a body to hit.”


McSorley was on the run against the Hoosiers, banging into bodies from beginning to end.

He opened the game by carrying the ball on the very first play from scrimmage. In the second quarter, he ran two yards for a first down, then ran 44 yards for another first down.

He ran for a touchdown to end the third quarter. He ran for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, with the game in the balance, McSorley ran five times for 47 yards, including that TD, two first downs and a 27-yarder.

See Trace run. Run, Trace, run.

He is a panacea. An eraser. And, dare we say it, a crutch for an offense that has been pretty hobbled lately.

“We realize what we have,” offensive tackle Ryan Bates said. “Trace is a great player. And we’re very grateful to have him on our team.”

All too often these days, McSorley and then more McSorley comes to the rescue. There’s no Godwin, no Saquon, no DaeSean, no Gesicki. He is the last of the 2016-17 Mohicans. The only help around, it seems when it comes to consistent play-making for miles and miles around, is…well, Miles. And Trace.

“When we’re inconsistent catching the ball,” Franklin said, “we have a hard time getting into a rhythm and moving the ball consistently. Trace has always made big plays with his legs, really since he’s been here. Obviously, he’s shouldering a little bit more of the load right now. That’s obviously what you want to see in players who have won as many games as he has.”


Speaking of which, McSorley has 27 victories as a Penn State starter, trailing only the record of 29, held by Todd Blackledge, Chuck Fusina and Tony Sacca. McSorley’s 34 career starts tie him with Zack Mills, and he only trails Christian Hackenberg (39) and Sacca (40).

In addition, McSorley is also on the cusp of joining the 9,000/2,000 club. Those who have achieved it include such luminaries as Tim Tebow and Lamar Jackson.

In 2018, McSorley has rushed 99 times for 554 yards — and that includes sacks. That is already a season-high for him, just seven games in. (Rushing, he was 13 for 43 yards in 2015; 146 for 365 in 2016; and 144 for 491 in 2017.)

McSorley now has 8,803 career passing yards and 1,453 rushing yards. Here’s where he stands with the all-time dual-threat greats in major college football:

Tim Tebow, Florida (2006-09) — Pass; 9,285 yards, 88 TDs; Run: 2,947 yards, 57 TDs

Taylor Lamb, App State (2014-17) — Pass: 9,763, 90; Run: 2,008, 23

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State (2014-17) — Pass: 9,434, 104; Run: 3,263, 43                                

Lamar Jackson, Louisville (2015-17) — 9,043, 69; Run: 4,132, 50

McSorley, Penn State (2015-18) — 8,830, 70; Run: 1,453, 26

McSorley is averaging 79 yards per game rushing over Penn State’s 5-2 season. If he continues at that pace through the remaining five games, plus a bowl appearance, he’ll finish with 1,927 career rushing yards.

But, over the past three games — 175 vs OSU, 37 vs. MSU and 107 vs. IU — he’s averaged 106 yards, and that pace (if he maintains it, and stays healthy) would put him close to 2,100 yards.


Whether McSorley hits that mark or not, his teammates appreciate what he has done. And continues to do.

“Trace is the ultimate quarterback,” veteran safety Amani Oruwariye said. “He’s the guy who is going to manage the clock and manage the game for us. That helps the defense. When the ball’s in his hands, I know he’s going to do his things.

“We have an expectation when he gets the ball, but he’s not taken for granted. I always tell, ‘You’re the dog, man. You’re the dog.' ”

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