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Penn State Football: Offense Developing Consistency With Or Without Stars On Field

by on September 21, 2016 11:20 AM

It's safe to say that Penn State's offense in 2014 and 2015 was hardly the standard in college football. Certainly the Nittany Lions were trying to make the most of what they had in a difficult situation, but for the most part it wasn't an offense threatening to score on every possession.

So when a key player went down, even for a few snaps, it often meant more obstacles to overcome and less chance of a drive ending with points. 

But fast forward to 2016 and that story is a little different. Sure Penn State isn't scoring on every drive and the Nittany Lions have plenty of things to work on, but the improvement is visible.

Take for example Penn State's win over Temple this past Saturday. When star running back Saquon Barkley went down on the first offensive drive of the game it could have spelled a long afternoon for the Nittany Lions. But that's not what happened. In the four drives following Barkley's departure from the game Penn State answered with three touchdowns and a fumble in the redzone by freshman back Miles Sanders.

Hardly what you would have seen in the past.

"I think it speaks volumes about the direction that we're headed," Franklin said on Tuesday. "You're exactly right. In the past if we had one of our better players not playing well or not make a play or having to go down for a couple series and being out of the game, that we had a hard time overcoming that."

"We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were the last two years when it comes to pass protections. We still need to get more physical and nastier in the run game. But I see that. I look at Mike Gesicki going in and making big plays. He's an older, more mature player now. Even Jonathan Holland got in the game. Pancoast got in the game. Not only got in the game, but was able to get the job done. So, yeah, we're starting to create more depth."

The reasoning for this sudden change is likely a mixture of two things. Penn State has been one of the youngest teams in college football, and that is slowly changing as youth turns into a more and more experienced roster. Experience doesn't automatically ensure improvement, but so far the Nittany Lions have seen those two things go hand in hand. The second being offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who has for the most part found more effective ways to use much of Penn State's offensive talent.

Whatever the case might be for at least the first games of the season Penn State has managed to overcome some of its own mistakes, injuries and bumps in the road on offense. Improvement hard to ignore as the Nittany Lions scored 21 points without one of the best players in the nation on the field.

"You've heard me talk about it, and you guys have written about that we're a young football team," Franklin added. "But we're starting to develop depth which we hadn't had. So that's exciting. We've got to keep growing, we've got to keep working, we've got to keep developing. We've got to keep staying positive. But I think that's a really good example, and it's a good example for our team."

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