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Penn State Football: Why The Nittany Lions Won't Be Going Under Center, Ever

by on September 28, 2017 1:15 PM

It comes as no surprise that following a week where Penn State struggled close to the end zone that life has once again been pumped into the notion the Nittany Lions should be going under center in short yardage situations.

The argument itself is not entirely wrong. More blockers, fewer yards to go, it's a homage to old school football and something that has worked for far longer than the spread attacks of today's game.

That doesn't mean Penn State is going to be doing it anytime soon, or that offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead entirely agrees that it's a good idea in first place. Especially for his team.

"The thing that you have to remember is when you talk about numbers and angles, every offensive player that you back bring into the backfield to become a blocker," Moorhead said on Thursday during a teleconference. "When a defense is playing cover zero they're adding another defender that takes the run away, so when you're under center there is nobody to read so essentially you're handing off the ball to an unblocked defender at the point of attack."

That's a basic football explanation. Going under center is a good idea until you realize that you're outnumbered right off the bat. The entire premise of a read-option is let the defender make a choice and react with the option that exploits that choice. It isn't always that simple, but that's the basic thrust of the idea.

And that doesn't even begin to address a more simple issue. Penn State isn't a team that goes under center or even practices it. That's just not the kind of team the Nittany Lions are.

"So really when you talk about two thing, philosophically or schematically, number one, philosophically we're not a two-back team that runs those type of plays. So it would be like a wishbone team to spread out and throw four-wides when you need a passing situatio," Moorhead added.

"That's just really not what we do or who we are. I'm also of the firm belief that the more space that we have the playmakers that we have, the more space you can create be it up the field or on the goal line give you an opportunity to read somebody or give Saquon or Trace a chance to make somebody miss. I know the last game wasn't a great cross section of that philosophy because we got stuffed down on the goal line, but when you look at it across the board, our possessions inside the five yard line for the time that we have been here has been very good."

And more to the point, does Penn State even have a fullback on the roster?


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