Penn State Football: Hackenberg Confident In Offensive Line Development
Christian Hackenberg isn't one for words.
Not to say that Penn State's soon to be sophomore quarterback isn't thoughtful, in fact his eyes have a piercing ability to them as he thinks behind his increasingly flowing hair. He says exactly what he means with a level of calculation and poise uncommon for a player still fairly young in his collegiate career.
So when asked about his offensive line on Thursday, a unit that is paper thin midway through the spring, Hackenberg's answer was equal parts confident and calculated.
"They're working really hard, doing a fantastic job." Hackenberg said. "It's hard for them because they're learning all new protections, blocking schemes. New guys are stepping up, filling holes. Their progression has been impressive. Donovan, Mangiro, Alosi, those guys have been around a while and they're taking leadership roles. I just have to be confident in them, which I am."
This spring is an new experience for Hackenberg who came to Penn State last summer and was thrown into the fire. Now he's had a chance to go through the spring weight program and take the time needed to really digest Franklin's offense. While time is certainly of the essence even almost 200 days from the start of the season, Hackenberg has far more of it to work on things than he did just a year ago.
"I'm very comfortable. I have to get more of an understanding of how these protections work, they're a little different," Hackenberg said. "But I'm confident in all these guys. I know they're all competitors and I know they're going to continue to get better."
"The game slowed down for me a lot. Of course just understanding coverages and picking things up and what means what and how to really master it. I think my experience last year allowed me to make a relatively easy transition to this new (offense). Just continue to stay on track. I'm not trying to look ahead and make ridiculous expectations. I know if I do my job and everyone takes care of their job we'll be a pretty successful offense."
Plenty of questions will linger into the summer as Hackenberg works on his rapport with his fairly new look receiving corps. Those kinds of issues shouldn't concern fans though as long as their Big Ten Freshman of The Year can stay on his feet this season. Luckily for Hackenberg, he's running as fast as he ever has at his new weight of 235 pounds. A 4.73 forty-yard dash gives him plenty of foot speed to avoid oncoming defenders although it's hard to imagine that he'll be doing much intentional scrambling this upcoming season.
"I feel like I've gotten stronger. I went through my first weight training progression," Hackenberg said. "I feel like the ball's coming out a little better, I ran the fastest 40 I've ever run at this weight. I feel good right now, just continuing to tune up the tools and be the best player I can be."
If Hackenberg continues to develop like he has in less than 365 days at Penn State the best player he can be might be one for the record books in Happy Valley.