So far, the 2018 season has not gone quite as well as some had hoped. Following Saturday’s loss to Michigan, the Nittany Lions sit at 6-3, firmly out of the Big Ten championship and playoff discussion - but still considered a top 20 team. So where do we go from here? There are still three regular season games to go, and then whatever bowl game picks up Penn State. What do you want to see? For me:
- Trace McSorley Sets the Record for All-Time Wins by a Penn State Quarterback
Given the recent turn of events, both in the win column, and with the injury bug, this one may be a bit of a tall task. Entering the season, Trace had amassed 22 wins as the starter, trailing record-holder Todd Blackledge, who has 31 wins. With four games left to go, Trace has 28 wins to his name, meaning the Lions would have to win out, including the bowl game.
This may not be impossible for the team, but the injuries Trace has suffered the last couple weeks may mean he is unable to play. More than anything, I want McSorley to be healthy, but seeing someone with his heart claim the all-time wins record would be something else. If we can’t get Trace the record, then I’d like to see . . .
- Tommy Time
Given that he is the heir apparent for the quarterback position, I’d like to see Tommy Stevens be given more than clean-up duty down the stretch. It seems when Stevens comes on the field as the dedicated quarterback, 75% of the plays selected are runs or quarterback sneaks. I want to see Tommy execute the full playbook, and get a sneak peek at next year.
- Redshirt? What Redshirt?
The coaching staff is of course going to judiciously dole out redshirts for the freshmen players - those ready to play have been contributing all year. But with four games left, young players that haven’t played a down yet could participate in every game to some degree, getting valuable playing time, without burning their redshirt.
- This Team Having Fun
At times, this season has felt like a slog. After the fourth quarter collapse against Ohio State, it felt like Penn State lost some of its cockiness. The demoralizing loss to Michigan State, and struggle against Indiana only compounded that. Then in the win over Iowa, you saw the players jumping around on the sideline, which was a breath of fresh air. Perhaps it was the out sized expectations for this squad, the youthful nature of the team letting the mental portion of the game get to them, or something else, but too many times it’s seemed like the players just aren’t having fun.
I’d like to see them finish the season having fun, picking up a few more wins, and heading to an entertaining bowl game. While 2018 was - in hindsight - going to be a rebuilding year, there’s no reason the players can’t enjoy themselves as they set up for 2019 and beyond.