Preview 2018: Penn State Nittany Lions. Give James Franklin His Due

Preview 2018: Penn State Nittany Lions. Give James Franklin His Due

2018 Preview

Preview 2018: Penn State Nittany Lions. Give James Franklin His Due

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What You Need To Know About The Penn State Offense

– Gone is Joe Moorhead to be the Mississippi State head coach, and gone is, of course, Saquon Barkley to be the early round must-have in your fantasy draft, and WR DaeSean Hamilton and all-star TE Mike Gesicki. And now it’s up to Ricky Rahne – last year’s passing game coordinator – to keep the Big Ten’s second-best offense going after it rolled up 460 yards and 41 points per game.

But for that to happen, the offensive line has to be stronger. It gets back four starters and has a good, versatile talent in Ryan Bates who’ll be an all-star just about anywhere, but the pass protection was spotty and allowed way, way too many big plays behind the line.

– As insane as this sounds, losing Barkley might not be that big a deal – at least it isn’t if you have Penn State’s backs. Of course, Barkley was a devastating superstar who took over the Iowa game and the bowl win over Washington, but he also disappeared way, WAY too often. He was the college football equivalent of the big-time home run hitter who strikes out three times a game.

Miles Sanders was considered every bit the prospect Barkley was coming out of high school, and big-time recruit Ricky Slade has the upside to be the smallish speedster who turns into an instant factor as a receiver as well as a part of the running rotation. However ..

The offense is Trace McSorley’s to fly. Barkley got all of the love and attention, but it was McSorley who led the Nittany Lions to the late win over Iowa. He’s the one who bombed away over the second half of 2016 to take the Big Ten title, and even through Barkley stole the Fiesta Bowl show, the 342 yards from the passing game didn’t hurt.

Juwan Johnson might not be Hamilton as a deep threat, but he can be a No. 1. target, and DeAndre Thompkins should grow into a reliable No. 2, with the hope that star recruit Justin Shorter is amazing right away. The problem is …

Biggest Key To The Penn State Offense

Replacing Barkley and Gesicki’s receiving production. Okay, so the big key is the line’s potential to block someone, but in the offense, McSorley is missing two of his key safety valves.

Yeah, Slade is built to potentially be an amazing third down receiver, but he’s a freshman – he’s not going to match Barkley’s 54 catches right out of the box. The tight end situation will be okay, but Gesicki was the ultra-reliable 57-catch guy who tied for the team lead with nine scores.

NEXT: Defense Breakdown, Top Players, Final Prediction & What Will Happen

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