2013 Penn State Football Team Preview
The Penn State Nittany Lions are hoping to dominate their nonconference schedule and be highly competitive throughout their Big 10 schedule in 2013. The roster is filled with a mixture of seasoned and experienced players and newly recruited talent with sky-high potential. Here’s a breakdown of the 2013 Penn State football team.
Going into the summer, starters at many of the skill positions have yet to be determined. This means that there are a number of competitions that will unfold over the next few months, and fans can be sure that only the best players on the team will have the right to take the field and represent the proud and perennially successful Nittany Lions.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition is freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The highly touted five-star recruit was offered full ride scholarships to Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the University of Miami, but he officially committed to Penn State in late February, and coaches are toying with the idea of structuring the offense around the 6’4″ pocket passer with a huge arm. They may ask him to compete with Tyler Ferguson and the two other walk-on quarterbacks for the role, or they could use this year to redshirt him in hopes of letting him grow into a college-level quarterback before even throws his first pass at University Park Stadium.
Junior running back Zach Zwinak is expected to get the bulk of the carries, and the offensive attack and general game plan will be very run oriented if Hackenberg is indeed redshirted. Alan Robinson was the top receiver throughout the 2013 season, and opposing defenses are going have their hands full in 2013 after he has an off-season to mature and add to his frame. After Robinson, the competition for the rest of the team’s receptions is wide open, with four freshman and two sophomores hungry to get out on the field.
Second-year coach Bill O’Brien brought in John Butler to be his new defensive coordinator in the off-season, and a new defensive head coach always means the reopening of competitions for starting roles. The effectiveness of the large and athletic defensive line will go a long way toward determining how successful the Nittany Lions are the season, so the coaches need to makes sure to put the right pieces in the right place.
DaQuan Jones is a large and athletic senior who anchors the line and will likely put up the best stats. As far as the other positions go, a huge collection of freshmen and sophomores will be competing with a couple of juniors for playing time. Abundance of youth is a theme with defensive lineman and wide receivers in Happy Valley, a telltale sign of team that is going to be strong for many years to come.
Penn State will have to hit the ground running once the Big 10 schedule begins, and back-to-back midseason showdowns against Michigan and Ohio State will be the most important matchups. If O’Brien is able to play the right cards along his defensive line and figure out his quarterback situation as quickly as possible, there is an outside chance that the Nittany Lions can win both of these football games. Doing so would certainly thrill large and passionate fan base, and be quite an accomplishment for a coach who took the program over less than two years ago.