Penn State needs to recoup 40-point offense if it is to catch Ohio State in Big Ten

Is there a Big Ten team equipped to match Ohio State’s 40-point offense in 2021?

The Buckeyes led the conference by scoring by eclipsing that mark in each of their last four Big Ten championship seasons. During that four-year period, only one other school averaged over 40 points in a single season.

Penn State is hoping to return this season with their third different coordinator since Joe Moorhead left after the 2017 season.

“I guess I’m coming back to Joe Moorhead, yeah I think it’s similar to that,” Penn State coach James Franklin said on Penn State Media Day Aug. 7. “I think if you look, even when we got here (from) Vanderbilt, we had a lot of concepts going around. Then we took it to a whole new level with Joe. You know, we came back. really what we’ve wanted to be since we’ve been here. ”

RELATED: Big Ten Predictions for 2021

Moorhead was the CO for the Nittany Lions in the 2016 Big Ten Championship season and the following year in 2017, a race that included Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and an offense that could really threaten the Buckeyes on the pitch. In 2017, Penn State tied the Buckeyes at 41.1 points per game.

Penn State vs. Ohio State offense since 2017

State of pennsylvania Ohio state
YEAR PPG RANK PPG RANK
2016 37.6 21 39.4 13
2017 41.1 7 41.1 6
2018 33.8 32 42.4 8
2019 35.8 15 46.9 3
2020 29.8 54 41 11

Since then, Penn State has mixed Ricky Rahne (2018-19) and co-offensive coordinators Kirk Ciarrocca and Tyler Bowen (2020) looking to rekindle that 40-point offense. Now that challenge falls on Mike Yurcich, who was the Ohio State Passing Play Coordinator under Ryan Day in 2019.

Franklin insists that Penn State is carrying out the same offense. So what is changing now?

“This is the presentation,” he said. “Whether it is a grouping, whether there is no grouping. Whether it is to line up in several sets of staff, whether it is several sets. Whether it is empty, whatever Either way, it’s the packaging of how you put it all together. And it’s been fun. “

The Nittany Lions return three-year-old starter Sean Clifford to quarterback, and SN Preseason All-American wide receiver Jahan Dotson teams up with Parker Washington on the perimeter. Can Yurich bring that element of deep threat back anytime to the Penn State offense?

“It’s interesting, everything in football is really relative,” Yurcich said on August 7. “To be successful with the deep ball, if you are able to throw it vertically, that means you have the defense to respect your running game. So, I think that’s a very important aspect of that, not to be overlooked.”

“You want to be able to run the ball when everyone in the stadium knows you have to run the ball and you have to be able to run the ball,” Franklin added. “Whether it’s in the red zone, whether it’s a short film. When it comes to the four-minute offense, we want to make sure that we can kind of serve all these different masters. “

The Nittany Lions have a running back committee that includes Noah Cain, Keyvone Lee, Devyn Ford and Baylor transfer John Lovett as well as an experienced offensive line led by tackle Rasheed Walker. This group must be better.

This is the cast that Franklin and Yurcich form to get back into the mix with the Buckeyes. Penn State lost a point to Ohio State in 2017 and 2018, but the Buckeyes have won the last two games in double digits. It’s no coincidence that Penn State’s offensive production has slumped over the past two seasons.

“It was fun being with Mike and learning with Mike,” Franklin said. “Obviously, we have a similar background. We’re guys who both played in the PSAC, guys who both coached in the PSAC. His career has taken a little bigger leap, hasn’t it? He moved from Shippensburg to Oklahoma State.

This is a pivotal year for Penn State. A pandemic grace could be issued for last year’s 0-5 start, which the Nittany Lions dressed with four straight wins to end the season.

The offensive will also have to click early. Penn State opens at No.12 in Wisconsin ahead of a home game with Auburn two weeks later. Ranked clashes against No.17 from Indiana and No.18 from Iowa precede the Oct. 30 trip to Ohio state No.4.

So, can the Nittany Lions get back to standard Joe Moorhead just as quickly?

“The 2016 attack was great, but it took a few weeks for that to happen. So what are your realistic expectations of what this attack might be at the start versus the middle and end of the season? ? ” Franklin said. “Well, you know, in your opinion, according to our schedule, it’s better for it to be early, right? I think everyone is aware of that.”


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