By now, you all know the story from Saturday - the Penn State offense was generally okay, but was hamstrung repeatedly by dropped passes by the wide receivers. The drops directly led to one interception, and at least one touchdown taken off the board. Whether it’s on wide receivers coach David Corley, or if the players have all suddenly gotten into their own heads, there’s no doubt that the receiving corps has become a bit of a liability.
Entering the season, RS Jr Juwan Johnson and RS Sr DeAndre Thompkins were penciled in as starters, returning years of in-game experience. RS Jr Brandon Polk was on the short list for the number three spot, fighting it out with RS Fr KJ Hamler.
Well, for some reason, Johnson, Thompkins, and Polk have all but turned into a liability. Through seven games, the receiving corps has amassed 24 drops - that’s 3.4 drops per game, for those of you counting at home. The frustrating thing about the drops is that - for the most part - the passes have not been particularly difficult ones. Trace McSorley is not the most accurate passer in the world, but when he’s hitting his receivers in the hands or the numbers, it’s not too much to ask them to catch it.
Even RS Fr Mac Hippenhammer has developed the dropsies. Of the four receivers entering the season expecting to see meaningful snaps, only Hamler has proven to be reliable - and even he had some issues against Indiana, muffing several punts. The only other player that has become a regular contributor in the passing game has been true Fr Pat Freiermuth.
Perhaps fed up with the lack of production from the unit, the Penn State coaching staff decided to go with some younger players against Indiana. RS Fr Cam Sullivan-Brown, and true Fr Jahan Dotson both appeared later in the game against the Hoosiers, hauling in a combined three passes for 43 yards. Perhaps more importantly, they didn’t drop the ball.
So, time will tell. James Franklin made mention of looking at the wide receiver rotation in his post game press conference, hinting that some shakeups may be on the way. But when you cannot rely on more senior players to regularly do their job, it’s time for a youth movement to lead the way.