#36 Penn State Football 2013 Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions

Overall Rank: #36
#7 Big Ten

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#36 Penn State Football 2013 PreviewBuy Penn State Football Tickets

Not many were paying attention to Penn State on the field last year. They got off to a slow start with losses to Ohio and Virginia and were not eligible to play for a Big Ten title or in a bowl game anyway. Thus, it went largely unnoticed when the Nittany Lions won eight of their final ten games, including the season finale overtime victory over Wisconsin. One major departure is that of quarterback Matt McGloin. He threw for 3,266 yards, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Penn State offense is complicated and having a senior signal caller like McGloin was huge. Now the starting job will go to incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg or junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.

2012 Record: (8-4, 6-2)
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Bill O’Brien (8-4 at Penn State, 8-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator: John Butler

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Zach Zwinak, RB, 1,000 yards
Passing: Steven Bench, QB, 12 yards
Receiving: Allen Robinson, WR, 1,013 yards
Tackles: Glenn Carson, LB, 85
Sacks: Deion Barnes, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Adrian Amos, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Bill Belton, TE Kyle Carter, WR Brandon Moseby-Felder, TE Jesse James, OL John Urshel, OL Miles Dieffenbach, OL Donovan Smith, DT DaQuan Jones, S Malcolm Willis

Key Losses: QB Matt McGloin, FB Michael Zordich, LB Gerald Hodges, LB Michael Mauti, DT Jordan Hill, CB Stephon Morris, DE Sean Stanley

Whether Hackenberg or Ferguson ends up under the center, the Penn State offense will be explosive. Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a huge sophomore season, catching 77 passes for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brandon Moseby-Felder is an experienced senior who has been a fine complimentary receiver to Robinson. The Penn State tight ends may be the best in the country. Kyle Carter and Jesse James are both just sophomores and Adam Breneman is a true freshman, but there is a load of talent right there. In 2012 Carter caught 36 passes for 453 yards, while James caught 15 passes for 276 yards and five scores. The Nittany Lions will not just have to rely on the passing game though. Running back Zach Zwinak reached the 1,000 yard plateau as a sophomore and he is a tough back who can run through tackles. Bill Belton and redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch are more than capable backups. The offensive line returns three starters, led by guard John Urschel and they have quite a bit of experienced depth as well. With the bevy of talent surrounding the new quarterback, the Penn State offense should be better than the squad that averaged a touch over 29 points per game.

The defense ranked second in the Big Ten last season by allowing just 19.08 points per game. This is Penn State so the unit is not going to fall apart by any means, but there are some big shoes to fill. Gone are Jordan Hill, Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. That was three of Penn State’s top four tacklers. The front four has a superstar in the making in Deion Barnes. He led the squad with 6.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles-for-loss as a freshman and he is only getting stronger and better. The interior of the line returns DaQuan Jones and expectations are very high for freshman Austin Johnson. The experience and depth in the secondary is greatly increased this season, but it will not make much of a difference if the front seven cannot find some help for Barnes getting into the backfield. The linebackers may not be able to support Barnes. Glenn Carson is the only returning player with major experience. There is young talent like freshman Nyeem Wartman, but the unit is inexperienced and lacking depth.

The Bottom Line:
This will be an interesting season for Penn State. Once again the Nittany Lions are not eligible for a bowl so there is no Big Ten title to play for, but this group has the talent to play spoiler and shape the conference race. Once a quarterback takes control of the offense, they could be pretty tough to stop. Meanwhile the defense will need to fill those holes and the talent is definitely there to do it. The Nittany Lions may not have a whole lot to play for when it comes to the national scene, but this is not going to be a team that stops playing tough football. Coach O’Brien will not let that happen and the talent on this team will surprise a couple unfortunate top Big Ten squads that too easily look past Penn State.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 143.92 (83rd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 273.58 (35, 2)
Total Offense: 417.50 (53, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.08 (62, 7)
Rushing Defense: 128.42 (23, 4)
Pass Defense: 225.00 (50, 8)
Total Defense: 353.42(29, 4)
Scoring Defense: 19.08 (16, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.75 (22, 3)
Sacks: 2.83 (15, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (51, 6)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#97 Allen Robinson

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#32 Christian Hackenberg
#51 Adam Breneman
#199 Brendan Mahon
#203 Garrett Sickels


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