Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Receivers Start Off Post Robinson Era Just Fine
After Penn State's 26-24 victory over UCF Saturday any questions Nittany Lion fans may have had about the post Allen Robinson era have now at least begun to be answered.
With seven different players catching a pass and DaeSean Hamilton bring down 11 balls for 165 yards it's clear the remaining receivers on are capable of carrying the load.
"I think DaeSean is one of those guys who has worked extremely hard," quarterback Christian Hackenberg said after the game. "He came in with me so I knew the type of player he was.
"Just like Geno and our tight ends, when you give him an opportunity he’s going to make the play and make the effort. I think DaeSean’s work effort is the reason why I trusted him so much.He’s a guy who shows up every day at practice and is consistent with what he does. I’m confident in him against any defense.
"I think DaeSean just came out and made plays. He got open. He did what he had to do, just like the other guys. Geno made two or three ridiculous catches. The guys really stepped up and understood what they had to do."
That kind of confidence from Hackenberg can only be good news for the rest of the team. The more he and his targets are on the same page, the fewer mistakes will be made -- and more big plays can unfold. Hackenberg may have thrown nearly half his passes to Allen Robinson last season, but that doesn't mean the players behind him on the roster aren't talented as well.
Even so, starting off on the right foot is a big plus for an offense that is still finding its identity.
"I think it’s something we can lean on," Hackenberg said. "We look to be a well-rounded team. It’s a testament to how hard we worked in the offseason. Everyone thought that was the big question mark (replacing Robinson)."
"We knew we had play makers outside. You guys just haven’t seen a lot of them yet. I think these guys will continue to get better. There were mistakes and we have to fix them to get better. Those guys gave us a great foundation today."
That room for growth is what ought to excite Penn State fans. It wasn't as though these players are reaching the end of their careers. For example, the UCF game was Hamilton's first collegiate game. For Geno Lewis it was his first year starting in a No. 1 spot. It's too early to tell where the ceiling is for Penn State's receiving unit, but there is the potential for a lot more growing and learning.
And after Saturday's group effort that room to grow should worry a lot of opposing defenses.
"Number one, you guys know we've got a special guy playing quarterback," Coach James Franklin said. "What the question was, was there going to be the players around him from an experience standpoint to make plays. And they did. Geno Lewis made some unbelievable plays today, circus catches. I think Hamilton broke the freshman record. So just so many positives."