This weekend the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Memphis Tigers 53-39 in the Cotton Bowl. The vast majority of the offense’s success came on the ground, as Journey Brown and the Lawn Boyz combined for 53 carries, 396 yards rushing, and five touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the passing game was sort of mediocre yet again. Sean Clifford went 11 of 20 through the air for 133 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. No receiver had more than 3 receptions, and even KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth were largely held in check all game.
Following the majority of the season in which the running game set the offensive pace, and in which the passing game was just sort of meh, I had the same thought throughout the game: run the dang ball! If the offense is good at running the ball, and the defense can’t stop it, why not let Journey, Noah Cain, Ricky Slade, and Devyn Ford get to work?
I have the same general thought for Kirk Ciarocca as he begins to prepare for the 2020 season. All four running backs are set to return. Four of five starters on the offensive line will be back as well. Two new blue chip RBs will join the team this off season.
It seems awfully straightforward, but here it is: run. the. ball!
I’m NOT saying to abandon the pass, that would be foolhardy. But through excellent running back recruiting and a lack of executing through the air, Penn State has become a run-first team. Clean up the passing game to complement the ground game in 2020, but use your strength to grind opposing defenses into a fine paste.
Let’s get all of the Lawn Boyz their touches next year and crush the hopes and dreams of all who dare to oppose the Lions!