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Three Reasons For Optimism: Offense

Penn State returns a bunch of key skill players and offensive linemen. If the quarterback position ends up being an upgrade, the sky may be the limit.

Penn State Spring Football Game Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

We’re back with another edition of a beloved BSD offseason staple in “Three Reasons For...” For those of you who are newer to the site, every Summer the staff puts together three reasons to be optimistic and concerned for offense, defense, and special teams. Today, we kick off the series with a puppy dogs-and-ice cream view of the offense.

It’s Drew Allar Time!

The long wait is nearly over, as Penn State fans will finally get to see the former five-star and nation’s top quarterback recruit in the 2022 class make his starting debut when West Virginia comes to Happy Valley on Labor Day weekend. Allar had a rather productive season as the backup to Sean Clifford in 2022, and made a great impression early on by stepping in unexpectedly for a series in the season opener at Purdue, and making some solid throws that most true freshmen would not have made under such pressure. It was the following game against Ohio U. though, where Allar really got the fan dreaming of what he could do as a full-time starter, as he lit a spark in the passing game with a few deep bombs and a pair of touchdown passes.

Drew would go on to see action in several other games throughout the remainder of the 2022 season, throwing a handful of more touchdown strikes while showcasing great pocket awareness and an accurate cannon of an arm. The year spent as Cliff’s understudy, another offseason in the strength and conditioning program, and mastering Mike Yurcich’s offense should pay dividends for a kid who already has the physical tools necessary to be an elite college quarterback. He also appears to be taking on a more vocal leadership role, which you absolutely want to see in your starting QB. If Drew lives up to the hype, the sky is the limit for the Penn State offense in 2023.

Plenty of Weapons Surrounding Mr. Allar

Another third of the equation to the massive amount of hype about the offense is the amount of key returning skill talent that will make life that much easier on Allar as he gets more comfortable being the starter. Leading the charge of course, is the dynamic backfield duo of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Singleton is the home-run hitter, the guy who is threat to take it to the house every time the ball touches his hands, while Allen is the thunder to Singleton’s lightning as a guy who will absolutely lower the boom and knock opposing defenders down on his way to paydirt, and also possessing a decent amount of speed.

On the receiving end of the things, you have a solid tandem returning at tight end in Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren, both are big, athletic, guys who can throw blocks and also are sure-handed enough to double up as receiving weapons. KeAndre Lambert-Smith also returns to lead the wide receiver corps, you last remember him catching an absolute bomb from Clifford to help PSU pull away from Utah in the second half of the Rose Bowl. Harrison Wallace III and Omari Evans appear to have stepped up nicely in Spring practice to the point where both of them will be relied upon, while a pair of transfers in Florida State’s Malik McClain and Kent State’s Dante Cephas will also be seeking to carve out a key role in the passing attack. Cephas especially, brings a ton of hype to Happy Valley, as he was Kent State’s top receiver and a guy many Power 5 schools coveted once he hit the transfer portal.

The Offensive Line is Actually a Strength

Remember when we’d cross our fingers and “hope” that this year would finally be the year the offensive line puts it together and actually becomes a strength, as opposed to the weakest link in the offense? Thankfully, our prayers were finally answered last season, as Phil Trautwein’s unit found a reliable group of starters and inadvertently built greater depth when the injury bug bit, forcing some backups into starter roles. Olu Fashanu, dare I say, may be the most important returning piece to the offense, as he is a guy who easily could’ve left for the NFL Draft, but returns to man the left tackle spot and is already being projected as a top five pick in many 2024 mock drafts. Let’s all hope this time, he stays healthy and plays the entire season.

Olu will be lined up next to Landon Tengwall at left guard, followed by Hunter Nourzad manning the center spot, with Sal Wormley and Caedan Wallace holding up the right flank. Drew Shelton and JB Nelson also bring a good amount of playing/starting experience after having to step in when Fashanu and Tengwall were lost for the season last year. I also wouldn’t sleep on Vega Ioane, as he is an absolute physical specimen who the staff has been enamored with and sees great things happening with sooner rather than later.