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Penn State Football: July Mailbag As Camp Draws Near

by on July 10, 2018 2:00 PM

It's mailbag time. Thanks to a handful of Twitter followers for sending along a few offseason questions to answer as the Nittany Lions head into the middle of July with training camp not too far away.

Feel free to tweet your own questions at @Ben_Jones88 or leave them on the Facebook page.

Does Tommy Stevens take more than 30 snaps in out of conference play?

I think the answer here is going to be yes, but not because he's suddenly going to become a staple in the offense. The App State and Kent State games ought to offer him some garbage time action, but it's hard to imagine Penn State beating Pitt so badly on the road at night that he gets time.

As far as him on the field when Trace McSorley is in? I am still of the belief the best way Stevens can help Penn State is by being healthy on the bench. Which is to say Penn State is crazy if Stevens is something other than an occasional, as-needed wrinkle in the offense. The only way that changes is if they use him in a way we haven't seen before.

So he should get to 30 snaps, but it'll be mostly as a quarterback, not as something else.

How does Penn State overcome the loss of Josh Gattis?

Gattis probably spent much of his time at Penn State being a little underrated by fans when it came to coaching receivers. The first two years everything about Penn State's offense struggled, for a handful of reasons. Needless to say, as soon the scheme turned around, so too did the perception of Gattis as a coach. In turn, Penn State saw some of its best receiver units in program history roll through the previous two seasons, at least in terms of speed, blocking and hands down the field.

Losing Gattis hurts Penn State both on the recruiting trail and on the field. David Corley is going to have big shoes to fill this season and during a year where Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins are the only real established threats in the receivers' room. Overcoming that loss will be a group effort, both from Corley and with help from Johnson and Thompkins picking up where they left off last season.

What are the chances Manny Bowen ends up playing again at Penn State?

I think it will be a hard sell for Franklin to reinstate a player who was suspended twice and kicked off the team, but it seems not entirely impossible that's what is going to happen, even if it isn't Week 1. That being said, I don't know, I'm mostly guessing from an informed position.

Starting linebackers at start of year vs end of year?

Cam Brown, Jan Johnson and Micah Parsons in some configuration to start the year and I think Jesse Luketa and Koa Farmer might find a way to be a more constant figure in the rotation by the end of the year. If Bowen comes back he ought to find a starting spot as well. And as a general note, unless Parsons really struggles, he's going to play rain or shine.

With questions on defense, will Penn state have to win high scoring games this year?

There's no doubt the offense is Penn State's strength this year, and really has been the past few years. Opponents might be scoring more points than in years past this season, but the Nittany Lions ought to be well equipped to handle that. So to answer your question, yes, in turn there is probably a loss in there somewhere you wouldn't expect because high scoring games are a dangerous way to live.

Will play calling be different?

I don't think you're going to see a big difference between Joe Moorhead and Ricky Rahne when it comes to the bread and butter of how the offense operates. What will be interesting, and what will be probably a defining trait of the season is how Rahne handles end of game situations. Moorhead had a lot of experience to lean on, Rahne has far less. If he can navigate those high pressure situations like Moorhead did, or at least with the same confidence, Penn State will be just fine. If he struggles with the learning curve, you might see a loss pop up you wouldn't have expected. All told though I don't think the offense will be all that different, you just might see a few Rahne touches along the way.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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