Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Coaching Points: Penn State vs UCF, 2014

Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports 

Offense: Mostly 12 personnel, single back offense. Pass Heavy
Defense: 4-3

Run Game
So, PSU's run game was pretty bad, and it's not on their fairly talented RBs. The OL is going to struggle this year, both in run blocking and in pass protection. That's about what you expect when you switch two DTs to OG, but it wasn't pretty. But in this one, I didn't even really feel a threat from the run game at any one point, and that's going to make things hard for Hack.

I think his development this off season is obvious. He looks much more in command, throws a very pretty ball when given time, and can make all the throws. His biggest issue is going to be his protection, and the decisions he makes when pressured, particularly on the move. He made several really bad decisions with the football, throwing across his body late and putting the ball in windows he shouldn't try to throw into. He's a good enough athlete to escape and live to see another day, and there needs to be a bigger emphasis on that.

Part of the problem I saw for Hackenberg comes from how his receivers compliment his pass protection, which is to say, they don't always do so in a good way. PSU has some athletes on the outside, but for the most part they are raw in their route running and not always consistent with their hands. Their most polished receivers are their TEs, but when teams don't respect your pass protection or run game, it becomes difficult for those guys to get much separation. I think Hackenberg will be forced to throw into some very tight windows this year, which will drop some of his numbers and limit some YAC. The athletes on the outside may be able to deliver some YAC by attacking over the top (UCF has a pretty good defensive backfield, for what it's worth), but more disciplined units on the back end combined with an attacking front 7/8 could cause issues for the PSU offense.

It produced a little, but I hate it here. I'm not a huge fan of it anyway, but the way PSU's offense is set up and where their skill is, I really don't like the use of the wildcat. First, it takes the ball out of the most dynamic player on PSU's offense: Hackenberg. Second, there is nothing that keeps a defense stretched; no jet sweep fake, no real pass threat. What it amounts to is a fairly slow developing play that the defense knows is a run for a struggling offensive line to have to block. It really doesn't make much sense to me, and even if PSU continues to develop it, I don't think it's a strength or even a positive for this team going forward this season.

Defensive Line
This is probably the strength of the entire team. The are solid all the way across this unit, and they can attack the passer, get off blocks, and play the run game as well. I thought they were very disruptive and played a big role in the success that PSU had.

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