See Former Penn State players lead current players through the Homecoming gauntlet before the game against Michigan State, October 13, 2018.
Cameron Clark, York Daily Record
The Penn State Nittany Lions would be undefeated right now if they could hold onto passes as expected.
It’s that simple.
And Saturday’s outcome against Iowa will hinge on the same.
Sure enough, Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders will have their moments running the ball against the best front-seven defense they’ve seen yet.
But their receiving corps is a mess, which has become debilitating. That’s how this Penn State team is built, to stretch defenses, not bludgeon them up front. That’s what makes them a Top 10 team while their offensive line continues to build and their defense matures.
Survival against the Hawkeyes, even in Beaver Stadium, absolutely depends upon a makeover there. The Hawks are the hottest, most balanced team in the Big Ten and are particularly dominating on the defensive line.
They will suffocate Penn State unless Trace McSorley and the offense hit on enough intermediate and deeper throws. Which means McSorley’s youngest receivers must now be the most reliable — freshmen KJ Hamler, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Mac Hippenhammer and tight end Pat Freiermuth.
Because the defense will play inspired and hold up its end of the deal.
Special teams will tighten their high-wire act from last week.
Rather, the outcome will be determined by how much help is given to the best all-around quarterback in Penn State history. Will enigmatic receiver Juwan Johnson, for example, even be healthy enough to turn his season around?
At this point, they all must prove their dependability.
Until then, they won’t be able to win when it truly matters.