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Depth Charting the 2012 Offense - Backfield

Not much to look forward to in our first offensive depth chart post on Wednesday, but the backfield should be a strength again in 2012, as long as two very important issues are addressed: health and depth.

The Backfield

Back Class
Silas Redd JR
Brandon Beachum RSSR
Curtis Dukes RSJR
Michael Zordich (FB)
Zach Zwinak (FB)

Gone from the mix are oft-troubled speedster Stephfon Green and dependably reliable Joe Suhey.

Green was in trouble early in 2011, even leaving/being removed from the team for a brief spell. Thanks to his teammates pleas to Joe Paterno, Green was reinstated and worked his way back onto the playing field. He provided a spark over the last few games, and ended his Penn State career on a relative high note, despite never fully living up to the expectation of a speedy back (Scout listed his 40 time at 4.3 out of high school) from the Bronx.

On the other hand, Suhey was the always-there, always-vocal pass catching fullback that may be more famous for his phenomenal 'stache than any lead block he ever made.

As if you were at all confused, this is Silas Redd's team. However, as a show on just how precarious this whole situation is, Redd had to field "Are you transferring?" questions during the media blitz at the TicketCity Bowl. Luckily, he will be back for his junior year, and will once again be the feature back in what will assuredly be a run-first offense.

Redd gained over 1200 yards last year and finished with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average, to go along with seven rushing touchdowns. He caught nine balls out of the backfield and registered one official tackle. Once Green returned to the lineup, Redd gave up a good number of carries, but 244 attempts over 13 games still takes its toll on anybody. Redd battled some minor injuries in 2011, but ended the season in relatively good health.

Brandon Beachum and Curtis Dukes once again find themselves buried on the depth chart, though with Green gone they each move up a spot. Beachum's future is in question, with rumors swirling that he won't be back for his fifth year. Dukes, like Beachum, showed some decent running skills, but just doesn't have what it takes to overtake Redd. He's a solid (literally) back to spell Redd, and provides quality depth.

At the tailback spot, depth and health are major concerns. If Beachum does in fact leave the program, that leaves just Redd and Dukes to shoulder the load (the four backs mentioned combined for 380 carries in 2011). Even if Beachum sticks around, taking a running back in the Class of 2012 is imperative. Similarly, keeping everyone healthy is of great concern. Iowa fans can tell you, one shot to the knee of Silas Redd, and our offensive strength is a major question mark.

At the fullback spot, Penn State loses a major contributor and fan favorite, but returns two solid players. Mike Zordich has become a great fullback, with some powerful lead blocks and an ability to get that extra inch where needed. Replacing Suhey on the depth chart, Zach Zwinak was the No. 2 fullback coming out of high school two years ago, but has dealt with some injuries along the way. A slow rehab (because really, no need to rush) and he should be 100% by September 1. Taking a fullback in the Class of 2012 isn't necessarily pressing, but grooming a new fullback to replace Zordich after 2012 is going to be important. Of course, there's always P.J. Byers.

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