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Three Reasons For Concern - Offense


Eric Francis

1. The quarterback situation

Whenever a quarterback who broke numerous school records leaves a school, there are almost certainly going to be questions about the position. Add in that the guy with the most experience behind him decided to transfer to another school after spring practice and the biggest area of concern for the Penn State offense is who will be taking snaps come this fall.

Steven Bench, he of eight career pass attempts, has decided to leave Dear Old State, leaving JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson and run-ons Austin Whipple and D.J. Crook alone on campus until summer comes around. Ferguson had an admirable spring game, completing 9-of-15 passes for 90 yards while throwing two touchdown passes in his first game action since transferring from The College of the Sequoias this past winter.

Once summer arrives, five-star recruit Christian Hackenberg and two-star run-on Jack Seymour will be added to the quarterback competition. Hackenberg, who O'Brien has said will compete for the job, has had redshirt talk surround him ever since his commitment, obviously before Bench left the program. Seymour could allow Hackenberg to take his first year off if he doesn't win the job, seemingly being solid enough to earn scholarship offers from MAC schools Ball State and Western Michigan as well as Southern Illinois.

One thing is for sure, though, it will be a long while before any certainty comes out of this competition.

2. Offensive line depth

When Ferguson came in for the second series of the Blue-White Game with the second-team offensive line protecting him and was promptly "dropped" for two sacks, questions immediately started creeping into my mind about who was backing up the guys who seemed to give Bench an extraordinary amount of time to throw the possession before. Backup offensive tackle Anthony Stanko, the number-two behind Adam Gress at right tackle (who had problems of his own on the first team) has decided to leave the team, but continue his academic career at Penn State. But, Mac McWhorter is one of the greatest offensive line minds in the country, so I wouldn't count out that unit just yet.

3. Over-confidence in BOB

Jared began to touch on this in his optimism post yesterday, but tailed away once he began watching the previous season again. I, on the other hand, will go ahead and pick up where he left off.

The job that O'Brien and quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher did with Matt McGloin cannot be praised enough. Compared to his previous two years, McGloin looked like an entirely different quarterback thanks to those two. But even offensive and quarterbacking gurus don't have great guys behind center year in and year out.

Take Lane Kiffin. While he's a complete dick, he's also one of the smartest offensive minds in the game. In 2012, he had the future number-one pick in the draft, Matt Barkley, at his disposal. Well, we know what happened. Even with stud wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Lee to catch whatever Barkley threw, the USC offense sputtered and Barkley was mocked for his decision not to enter last year's draft. The offensive mind of Kiffin, who produced some of the most explosive offenses in college football history during his time as a coordinator at USC in the mid-2000s, couldn't get last year's team off the ground and is now on the hot seat.

The point is, the fanbase expects O'Brien, a great offensive mind, to never fail at developing a quarterback or never having his NASCAR attack be stopped on a consistent basis. I think expectations of that need to be tempered a little bit.

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