Penn State went into Saturday’s game against Washington undefeated in the Fiesta Bowl and left just the same after a 35-28 victory.
Here are our takeaways from that game:
1. Despite its flaws, this group is special
We’ve all done it. Re-litigating the Ohio State and Michigan State games to figure out where things went wrong and why Penn State isn’t in the College Football Playoff. However, it’s about time we step back and appreciate how special this year’s group is.
Desean Hamilton is going to be remembered as one of the best wide receivers to ever wear a Penn State jersey.
Marcus Allen is not only a fantastic player, but maybe the most charismatic athlete to ever come through Penn State University.
Mike Gesicki is in an absurdly special pass catcher who worked his ass off to overcome major struggles in his first two seasons.
Jason Cabinda is an outstanding leader and as upstanding a young man as you could ask for to represent your program.
Saquon Barkley is a generational talent the likes of which we may not see again.
This group was special, and that needs to be remembered. That being said...
2. Penn State’s offense will be juuuuust fine next season
If Saturday was an indication of what’s to come for Penn State under the leadership of Ricky Rahne and Trace McSorley in 2018, business is about to pick up.
McSorley was unbelievable for much of the game both with his arms and his legs. Miles Sanders has transformed himself from a fantastic high school back who could rely on his speed to outrun everyone, to a well-built, well-rounded monster who may not be Saquon Barkley, but will still be damn good.
Deandre Thompkins and Juwan Johnson are going to provide opponents with matchup nightmares, and that’s before thinking about how Brandon Polk, KJ Hamler and Justin Shorter fit it.
The offensive line returns a ton of talent and should only continue to improve. With all but one starter back, that unit should be a strength.
Ricky Rahne isn’t going to miss a beat. The newly appointed offensive coordinator called a fantastic game against the Huskies and took advantage of all the weapons at his disposal.
3. Sean Spencer’s Wild Dogs will be something fierce in 2018
Shane Simmons, hello! In 2016 when Penn State signed five-star defensive end Shane Simmons, fans knew about the wealth of potential he had. After a redshirt season, Simmons began to work his way into the rotation in 2017 and looked stronger as the season progressed. In the Fiesta Bowl, Simmons shined. Not only was his speed off the edge a problem, which everyone anticipated, his stout run defense kept Myles Gaskin between the tackles for much of the game.
With Simmons joining Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney, Shareef Miller, Ryan Buchholz, Kevin Givens, Micah Parsons and possibly one Jayson Oweh in 2018, Sean Spencer is going to have himself one nasty pack of Wild Dogs.