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Three Reasons For Concern: Offense

Time for some negativity.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State at Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, we talked about the reasons to have optimism for Penn State’s offense heading into 2023. By and large, the arrow appears to be pointing up for the Nittany Lions offense, but that doesn’t mean this unit won’t have some questions to answer this summer camp and into the fall season.


Listen. Drew Allar is our baby. He’s it, baby. As a Penn State fan, I’m not going to argue with that. He’s 6-foot-5, 243 pounds of pure man-baby that is like manna from heaven for a program that can’t seem to get over the hump and into the College Football Playoff.

But taking off the blue-and-white shades for a second — and putting on my capital-J Journalist fedora — and it’s clear that Drew is the question for the offense. I mean, despite the fact I’ve left my family and quit my job to join the Church of Allar, we don’t actually have a ton of concrete knowledge on him. He threw an average of 6 passes a game last season, and while he looked pretty solid in the time he got, it was nothing more than “get your feet wet” territory. Now, Penn State is going to be asking him to venture off into the big kid pool. He’ll have a floaty or two (see: the running game), but at some point this season, it’ll be on him to swim in the deep end without the floaty. How does he handle being down a score with 5:00 minutes on the clock? How does he handle throwing an interception? How does he handle James Franklin bizarre clock management? We just don’t know, and that’s where the concern lies.

*capital-J fedora hat off, blue-and-white shades back on*

Man, I can’t wait for Drew’s Heisman speech.


The Nittany Lions lost 60.6% of their wide receiver receptions when Mitchell Tinsley and Parker Washington left Happy Valley for the great beyond, leaving a chasm at wide receiver for the Penn State offense. They hit the portal hard, landing All-MAC wideout Dante Cephas and Florida State transfer Malik McClain, but this remains a group that needs to show it on the field before it gets everybody on board. Oddly enough, they seemed to have noticed the lack of belief:

The talent is undeniably there. KeAndre Lambert-Smith has highlights that resemble that of an early round draft pick. Harrison “Tre” Wallace has the makings of a legitimate deep threat. Kaden Saunders was a consensus Top 100 prospect in the 2022 class. The aforementioned Cephas was arguably the best receiver in the MAC the last two seasons.

But which of those guys — or anyone even not mentioned — does Penn State feel supremely confident in having 50+ receptions this season? Right now, it appears they lack a bonafide No. 1, which could prove costly down the stretch of games.


The Olu Fashanu hype has taken on a life of his own to the point you could say anything about him and I’d believe you. He wears the number 74 because his wingspan is 7-foot-4? Sure. He’s on pace to not only graduate with his bachelor’s but also his master’s in December? Got it. He’s walking onto the basketball team and wrestling team in the winter? Wow, good for him. He’s a foster parent, using his NIL money to take care of at-risk teens and give them a home? Yup, I could see it.

The point being is that Fashanu is awesome and is very much deserving of the accolades that are being thrown at him this offseason. He was the best Penn State left tackle since Levi Brown, and he’ll likely come back even better. Scary thought for opposing Big Ten defenses.

Where the issue lies is that for as good as Fashanu is, he’s only manning the left side. That’s great and grand and good, but as Penn State learned last season against Ohio State in the 4th quarter, Fashanu’s dominant play on the left doesn’t mean things are going spectacularly on the right. Hello to JT Tumioloau and sorry to Bryce Effner.

The Nittany Lions have some solid options at right tackle, with the battle between Caedan Wallace and Drew Shelton going into the summer and perhaps even the fall. Still, it’ll likely be a significant drop off from what Fashanu is doing on the left side. That’s normal in some sense — your left tackle is generally going to be better than the right — but you hope for better consistency there than we saw at times last season.