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Christian Hackenberg: A Season in Review - Week 2 vs EMU

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In-depth review of Christian Hackenberg's 2nd collegiate start against Eastern Michigan.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Part 2 of the 12 part series, summarizing Christian Hackenberg's Freshman season. As was the case in the first edition of the series (Hackenberg's game vs Syracuse), this article consists of adjusted stats, an overall game recap, video of every pass/run by the Freshman, and an overall review.

After Christian Hackenberg's first start vs Syracuse, where he performed admirably, expectations were high and nation wide praise was high. Analysts praised him for how mature and calm he looked in his first start, so all eyes were on him heading into Penn State's game with Eastern Michigan University. PSU was seen as the easy favorite to win the game, and Hackenberg was expected to see all the QB snaps, unlike week 1, where Tyler Ferguson saw a few drives.

Week 2 vs Eastern Michigan

Thrown to

Hits (Left)

Misses (Left)

Hits(Mid)

Misses (Mid)

Hits (RIght)

Misses (Right)

>20 Yds

1

0

2

0

1

2

10-20 Yds

1

2

1

0

4

0

0-10 Yds

1

0

1

2

5

0

<0 Yds

3

1

1

0

4

1

Adjusted Stats: 25/33. 1 TD,1 INT. 6/9 (66%) to Left, 5/7 (71%) to Middle, 14/17 (82%) to Right.

1 TD to >20 Yards Left. 1 INT to 10-20 Yards Left.

Game Review: Unlike Week 1 vs Syracuse, where a conservative game plan was put in place for the offense, PSU came out aggressive vs EMU. The first pass of the game for Hackenberg was a deep throw, 40 yards down the field to Brandon Felder; the pass sailed over the Senior's head  by 5 yards. The next 2 plays were both passes as well, and like the first, was thrown outside of the Wide Receivers range for incompletions. Not the start you look for, but it was good to see the confidence Coach O'Brien had in Hack to come out throwing on 3 straight plays from the 10 yard line. The next drive saw many PSU runs, and a bubble screen to Allen Robinson, but then came on of the Highlighted plays of the season...a deep PA Bomb to Robinson down the right side of the field.

This play really illustrates why Hackenberg is such a terrific player and so highly regarded already. Sticking in the pocket with LBs driving towards him, and hitting his man in stride down field with perfect placement. This is no ordinary Freshman.

Hackenberg's next passes include another bubble screen (surprise, surprise) but then the offense goes back to there aggressive attack. On a PA pass, Hack hits Jesse James in the Middle of the Field with defenders everywhere...showing good touch and precision on the pass.


Later that drive we see one of my favorite plays of the season by Christian. A fairly simple play by design...but no Wide Receivers really become as quickly as they need to. Hackenberg sits in the clean pocket, scans the field and finds Felder coming across the field. Most Quarterbacks of his age would have dipped out of the pocket in this situation... but not Hackenberg. This is a shining example of the high-level poise he shows in-game.


The play truly reminds me of how Tom Brady would look in that situation..but enough gushing.

Following this play though, we see multiple consecutive passes of 5 yards or less. The Nittany Lions continued down the field in the 2nd Quarter, using this pick-peck offense. Later on in the drive came the first INT of the Game for Hackenberg; simply trying to force the ball to an unopen receiver...Freshman mistake, but you'll have those.


Following the INT, as O'Brien usually schemes, to boost Christian's confidence, he came back with the screen game. Bill Belton, being a fantastic receiving target out of the backfield, goes for 20 yards. After the screen, we see two ~10 Yard BULLET passes by Hackenberg, once again showcasing the wildly strong arm he possesses.

On these two throws you see him use his whole body in the throw, which he doesn't always do. Using his legs and hips, he's able to get more velocity on the ball, and (often times) a more accurate ball.

Towards the end of the half, a Wide Receiver emerges wide open streaking down the right sideline, throws but way over throws him. These throws are ones Hackenberg can clearly make, as he has, but he must contain his arm more than he did on this errant throw, obviously.

The next half begins - First drive is a quick three and out. The 2nd drive we see much of the same tick-tack offense, consisting of short passes, but success is found. Hack finds Allen Robinson and Jesse James to move his way down field. Closing in on the endzone, we get our first real scramble from the Freshman...where he shows us his wheels. The Drive would end in an uncontested Zack Zwinak Touchdown on a stretch run.


On the Following Drive, Hackenberg showed terrific pocket movement, finding Allen Robinson wide open for the only Passing TD of the game.

Overall: One of Hackenberg's best overall games. Some of the plays in this game look life something you'd see from Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. He had a few dumb mistakes like the ones I described above, but the good FAR outweighs the bad in this game. He had some erratic throws, but the "WOW" plays (on the good end) were really fantastic. As a whole, this was the game that really sold me on what we had in Hackenberg. The Syracuse game you got glimpses of how special he was, but in this game it was just all over the field. The way he moved around the pocket and scanned the field was other worldly for a True Freshman in his 2nd week.

The next installment of this series will be Christian Hackenberg's Week 3 game vs Central Florida.