When we kicked off our countdown to fall camp yesterday, the question posed to our staff was more than a little ominous. In short, what worries you the most about this PSU team with practice kicking off in a week. Today, we’ll turn it around, taking a look at the strengths of the team.
Lead Editor Matt de Bear (@PSUMatt2005)
It would be easy to say the skill positions as a whole, and while I don’t think that’s wrong, I think I can narrow it down to the tight ends. With the overall talent at the position, plus a Bill O’Brien offense, it’s hard not to get excited. Kyle Carter returns after posting an impressive freshman campaign, that only slowed down after suffering a wrist injury versus Nebraska. Jesse James is coming off of a true freshman year in which he showed a knack for making the big play at the right time. Senior Matt Lehman returns after posting the first 24 receptions, 296 yards, and 3 touchdowns of his entire Penn State career. Oh, and there are a couple of newcomers. By now everyone knows the story of Adam Breneman, the top tight end prospect in the country, and ringleader of the class of 2013. There is also Brent Wilkerson, a 2012 recruit who redshirted last year, and should push for playing time as well. There is not another position on the field that boasts not only the talent, but also the depth of talent, that Penn State has at tight end. I can’t help but smile when thinking about the plans O’Brien has to make use of it.
Staff Writer Eric Sion (@ericbsion)
I believe that the strength of this Penn State team is the offensive skill positions- running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. At running back, there’s the three-headed monster of Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. Zwinak burst onto the scene last year to run for 1,000 yards and Belton showed what he’s capable of at times (like in the blowout win against Iowa). Lynch was redshirted in 2012, but he was very impressive in the Blue-White game and has some high expectations for this season. The wide receiver unit, led by 2012 Big Ten receiver of the year Allen Robinson, has solid depth too. Other than Robinson, there’s guys like Brandon Moseby-Felder, Alex Kenney, Matt Zanellato and promising redshirt freshman Eugene Lewis. Tight end could arguably be the single strongest unit on this Penn State team. Kyle Carter, Matt Lehman and Jesse James combined for 75 receptions last season. Add Brent Wilkerson and Adam Breneman to the mix, and this unit will be a huge key to helping the new quarterback get acclimated to playing football at the Division I level. It’ll be fun to see what Bill O’Brien does with all these talented players in year two as head coach.
Staff Writer Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23)
I see the strength of the 2013 Penn State team as being the returning skill position players on offense. While we still don’t know who the starting quarterback is going to be, the running back, the wide receivers, and the tight end have all been firmly entrenched in the Lions offense. Head Coach Bill O’Brien returns a plethora exciting and dynamic playmakers. At running back he returns 1000-yard rusher Zach Zwinak. Zwinak has been placed on the Doak Walker Award watch list (nation’s top running back) and the Maxwell Award watch list (nation’s top college football player). He will be spotted by the shifty and talented Bill Belton as well as redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch. At the wideout position, 1000-yard and 2012 All-B1G performer as well as 2013 Biletnikoff Award watch list player (nation’s top receiver), WR Allen Robinson returns for an encore performance, while senior Brandon Moseby-Felder will hold down the other spot. Finally, redshirt sophomore and preseason Mackey Award watch list player (nation’s top tight end) Kyle Carter will anchor the tight end position along with sophomore Jesse James. Incoming true freshman Adam Brenneman will also vie for time at TE. So, no matter who the quarterback is for Penn State this fall, they and Coach O’Brien will have plenty of offensive weapons at their disposal which should prove to be a great strength for the Lions.
Staff Writer Barry Leonard Jr. (@barryleonardjr)
The strength of this team clearly has to be the offense. Even with a new, inexperienced starting quarterback, this offense will be dangerous. Just look at the depth chart and you will see that the offense is loaded with talent and experience.
Having Allen Robinson out there catching passes will be a huge advantage for whoever the quarterback is. Also, guys like Brandon Moseby-Felder, Alex Kenney and newcomer Eugene Lewis will provide many targets to throw too. Add in all three top tight ends from last year and Brent Wilkerson, who’s shown great promise this offseason, and the Nittany Lions’ passing attack will be very difficult to defend.
Aside from all the pass-catchers, the backfield is also loaded. Zach Zwinak is set for another strong season, as is redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch. I am expecting big thing this season from Bill Belton. Although he disappointed last year,
he’s got a lot of skill as both a runner and a receiver.
Let’s not forget the offensive line. Three starters return from last year and the new starters all gained valuable experience a season ago.
Make no mistake. The Nittany Lions’ offense will rack up yards and points while causing matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.