The more things change for Penn State Football, the more they stay the same.
What I could have done is republished my article from the bye week where I addressed concerns for Penn State’s offense, including echoing Mike Yurcich’s comments that the connection between quarterback Drew Allar and the Nittany Lions‘ wide receivers needed to get better.
Instead, here we are three weeks later writing about the same offensive issues while Penn State’s hopes of a Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff birth are on life support.
Of note, Penn State Football has addressed multiple weaknesses through the season, including a shaky kicking game that was a perfect 2-of-2 on field goals over 40 yards Saturday, but, the Nittany Lions just have not addressed any on offense.
Anyway, here are two things Penn State Football must address before playing Indiana this Saturday:
Drew Allar and the wide receiver/ tight end connection
Allar and the Penn State wide receivers and tight ends were not on the same page for much of Saturday’s matchup in Columbus, especially on third down.
Penn State Football was an dreadful 1-of-16 on third down, with the lone conversion coming on the final drive of the game.
While Allar showed some inaccuracy throwing the ball, particularly downfield, there were multiple drops and miscommunications on routes.
In speaking to the media before the bye week, Penn State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich noted that Allar and the receivers not being in sync was “a big concern” for Yurcich and the entire Penn State staff.
“We gotta remedy that fast,” Yurcich told reporters. “It’s a big issue we have to clean up.”
Well now, after the Nittany Lions first loss of the season, it is clear that the big issue is still present for the Nittany Lions and was not cleaned up during the bye week or the post bye week walloping of UMass.
The Nittany Lions need to fix the connection between Allar and the wide receivers and tight ends quickly as a road trip to Maryland and a potential top 10 matchup with Michigan loom.
Partially, this one is about use and scheme rather than actual run blocking.
Penn State Football came out firing in the running game Saturday against the Buckeyes.
Nick Singleton put up his best drive of the season midway through the first quarter Saturday, rushing for 20, 16, and 6 yards on respective runs on the first scoring drive for the Nittany Lions.
However, despite the success against the Buckeye’s defense, Singleton only received six more carries for the rest of the game. Kaytron Allen and Singleton combined for only 18 rushes in what was a one score game for 3.5 quarters.
In spite of the Nittany Lions coming into the game Saturday with the most rushing attempts in the Big Ten, a large part of the Penn State offensive identity, the Lions got away from the run early, focusing instead on an inconsistent passing game and forcing Allar to throw the ball 42 times.
Many times this season, head coach James Franklin has stressed the need for staying true to Penn State’s offensive identity despite the noise from fans or the media, but in the biggest moment of the year, Penn State got away from it.
If Penn State Football is going to have a shot to finish the season in any position where the Nittany Lions wanted to be when the season started, this team must get back to its identity of running the football.
Penn State has a shot to get back on track against Indiana and avoid a second loss on the season.
In games following the first loss of the season, Penn State is 4-5 under James Franklin. As 31.5 point favorites, Penn State has a great shot to bump this trend and move to 7-1 on the season.