Penn State Football enters the bye week at an ideal time, sitting at 5-0 and ranked No. 6 in the nation.
This week, through a poll on X, I asked Nittany Lions fans what the biggest issue to address was for Penn State Football during the bye week.
Biggest issue to address during the bye week?
— Penn State FB Thoughts (@PSU_FB_Thoughts) October 2, 2023
Here are the top two answers for issues that Penn State Football must address during the bye week:
Quarterback Wide Receiver connection
In both of Penn State’s away games this season, first year starting quarterback Drew Allar and Penn State’s receivers have not been on the same page for a number of offensive plays.
Penn State Football offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich addressed this issue Tuesday when talking to the media.
Yurcich noted that Allar and the receivers not being in sync is “a big concern” for Yurcich and the entire Penn State staff. Yurcich continued, “We gotta remedy that fast…it’s a big issue we have to clean up.”
In two road games this season, Allar has completed only 51.5 percent of his passes and is averaging under 200 yards per game passing.
While a couple of the misses have been as a result of inaccurate throws by Allar, a number of the incompletions seem to be a miscommunication between the young quarterback and Penn State’s receivers.
This past week, Allar and Kent State transfer Dante Cephas had a few plays where miscommunication between the two looked to play a factor in incompletions, halting offensive progress.
As noted by Yurcich, Penn State will need to work on the communication between Allar and Penn State’s receivers to ensure that yards are not left on the field due to a miscommunication between the pair.
For one reason or another, Penn State’s sophomore duo has not been producing the results expected of the dynamic running back pair so far this season.
After a true freshman campaign that saw Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen combine for 1928 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, the now-sophomore duo has only combined for 590 yards in five games this season.
Penn State fans have been quick to blame the run blocking this season as the difference in production for the backs. Run blocking may have an impact in the running game, especially as Penn State’s offensive line depth has taken a hit this season.
Before fall camp ended, projected starting left guard Landon Tengwall’s medical retirement forced Penn State to use its tackle and guard depth to fill out the starting lineup as JB Nelson took over starting duties. In the first few weeks of the season, Penn State starting center, Hunter Nourzad, dealt with “bumps and bruises” that limited him in practice and forced Penn State to shuffle offensive lineman early against Delaware.
Last week, JB Nelson was carted off, further dealing a blow to Penn State’s line depth as reserve guard Vega Ioane was thrust into starter level snaps.
Penn State must use the bye week to address the injury to Nelson and determine what the offensive line rotation will look like coming out of the bye week. With whatever the rotation will look like, Penn State must find a way to create more holes for the running backs to get the backs back to the form they saw in 2022 if Penn State is to stand a chance of competing with the Buckeyes and Wolverines this season.
Penn State has two weeks before a massive matchup in Columbus as Penn State’s Big Ten title hopes and college football playoff aspirations should be on the line when Penn State faces the Buckeyes.
The fans have spoken, and at least on the first point, Mike Yurcich agrees that Penn State’s offense has to address the quarterback wide receiver connection and run blocking during the bye week.