Penn State Football: Heading Into Big Ten Play Receivers Getting In On Scoring
99 points, that's how many Penn State scored before a receiver accounted for any of them. Two wins under the belt before any receiver not named DeAndre Thompkins found the endzone, and he did it with a punt return.
But come Saturday night's 56-0 blowout of Georgia State it didn't take long for Penn State to get its receivers going.
First DaeSean Hamilton, then Brandon Polk and Saeed Blacknall. In an offense centered around Saquon Barkley doing his faster-and-strong-than-everyone routine, the Nittany Lions finally got back to some of the bigger names of 2016.
And still, 99 points without blinking.
"Yea I think it's kind of what you're saying," Quarterback Trace McSorley said about his receivers get involved "Seeing the ball go through the net and that's huge for our receivers. Guys start getting into a groove and they start having success and be able to get the ball in those guys hands early on whether or not they're getting the big plays or big touchdowns."
"Getting it to DeAndre on a couple of hitches and let him get into a groove, same thing with DaeSean and Juwan and those guys. Once they get into a groove the game comes more naturally, for all players in general but especially those guys once they're able to get into a groove and flow of the game."
It creates an interesting juncture in Penn State's season as the Nittany Lions head to Iowa to face a Hawkeye team they thoroughly picked apart a season ago. Penn State has generally scored at will without really leaning on its receiving corps. Players other than receivers account for half of Penn State's receptions this season. And while the balance is just about perfect, there is a distinct feeling that if the Nittany Lions have another gear out there.
But even if receivers haven't been the focal point of the offense yet, that doesn't mean they haven't been key.
"If you watched that play with Saquon Barkley, we all know how fast Saquon is. Watch Brandon Polk," James Franklin said on Tuesday. "He's on the opposite side of the field, he sprints down, catches Saquon and gets in front of a defender, and then goes into the end zone and celebrates, and he's as happy or more happy than Saquon is. I'm very pleased with him."
"I take a lot of pride in that because I know the people out there who are blocking for me," Polk added. "Like they are going to give everything they can, I don't care -- they don't care how big, how small they are. They are going to give everything that they can. So for me, even being a smaller guy, I'm going to give everything I can for them. And if I don't give them the best block, then I'm frustrated and mad at myself because I know that if they were put in that situation, they are going to do their best for me."
It's hard to argue with Penn State's methods so far this season, but it's also hard not to imagine how much better this offense could get if the receivers are only just getting started. Especially as the Nittany Lions look to establish a more traditional running game between the tackles.