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MMQB: College Football and Multiple Offenses

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Last week we asked about Christian Hackenberg's potential. This week, let's think about what's best for the offense's potential.

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We all know college football is fun. That's why we tune in every weekend to watch it, whether it be Penn State or anyone else. There are plenty of reasons for this. It's fun to watch your school compete. It's fun to hear bands do everything in their power to pump up the crowd (unless you're in Beaver Stadium, in which case you hear what sounds like a Pandora playlist 90% of the time). It's fun to see kids playing as hard as they can, with their futures on the line (in some cases). Another reason that college football is fun, is because it's not the NFL.

Offense in the NFL is predictable. Three and five step drops from the quarterback, deep passes on play action, dominating pass rushers, and ball hawking safeties. While plenty of teams nowadays have incorporated the read option and some wildcat formations, the large majority of NFL snaps still look the same way they do in your Madden games. College is different though. College is where you have teams like Navy with the triple option and Washington State with the aid raid offense. These kinds of offenses are fun to watch, even if they don't always work out for the best for those teams (Come on Cougs, really?).

The short time that Penn State fans have seen James Franklin and John Donovan coach the Nittany Lion offense has already brought about great change from what said fans are used to seeing. That's not to say that what they have seen is bad, but it is at the very least, different. The desire to use the wildcat may seem odd from the outside given Christian Hackenberg's talent, but it cannot be denied that it gives the offense a new wrinkle.

Upon his hiring, James Franklin said that they would tailor both their offensive and defensive schemes to their personnel. Such a strategy will allow for them to try out many different styles of offense, which they are clearly doing already. We've seen the traditional dropback, we've seen the wildcat with Belton, Lynch, and Zwinak all taking the snap, and now we've seen Belton take a handoff and attempt to pass back across the field to Hack. And this is just the start. When Brandon Wimbush arrives at Penn State, you can bet that the staff will take his experience running the read option in high school and translate it to their offense. Basically, they're willing to try anything to win, which is cool to see.

I'm sure there are some out there that don't agree though. I'm sure there are some who think running the wildcat is the most foolish thing the staff has done since arriving on campus. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts on it. I like the wildcat a lot. I think it's a great way to just give a different look, to get your quarterback a quick rest, and get the ball directly into the hands of who should be one of your most explosive playmakers. I do not, however, love some of the ways that we've seen it used so far. I think putting Zach Zwinak behind a poor run blocking offensive line is a death wish. We've seen already that it takes him too long to get going for the play to work, despite that man beast effort he had against Akron this weekend. Then on the other side, we've seen the potential the formation has with Akeel Lynch hitting the first hole he sees and never second guessing it. Of course in using these plays, it allows the defense to completely focus on stopping the run, and Bill Belton's weak attempt to Hack on his pass attempt won't change that.

I think that it's good for the staff to try out these sorts of things now, while the level of competition is lower than it will be later on, but I think the staff should stick with its big guns and keep the ball in Hack's hands. But what about you? How do you think Penn State should run their offense? Do you like the occasional wildcat formations, or do you think they're a waste of time? Is there anything else you'd like to see them try offensively?