With the Penn State Nittany Lions on a bye this week, it makes sense to reflect on the four non-conference games. Penn State finished the first third of the season with a record of 3-1 and is getting ready to enter Big Ten play at Indiana this week. The offense has played well so far, with several players putting up solid numbers. There have been some great performances so far, but Zach Zwinak has to be considered the team’s MVP so far.
Zwinak is part of a three-man backfield that has been very successful in the early going of this season. Though he’s shared time with Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch, he’s seen the lion’s share of the carries. Zwinak has carried the ball 67 times, while Belton has 33 rushes and Lynch has 32.
For the season, Zwinak has a mediocre 297 yards rushing but has already racked up eight touchdowns, two more than he had all of last season. Though the yardage seems low, one can’t deny Zwinak’s ability for putting points on the board.
Zwinak has become as much of a sure thing as a team can have around the goal line. The bruising back seems to have a knack for charging through the line and picking up short yardage, especially in the red zone. What makes Zwinak so dangerous is the fact that he’s not just able to gain short yards when needed. He also has a big play ability.
Zwinak’s longest rush so far this year is 38 yards.
While an argument for MVP could be made for wide receiver Allen Robinson and quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the nod has to go to Zwinak. He’s been reliable (except for a key fumble against Central Florida) and a has played a huge role in what’s been an effective Penn State running game.
Zwinak’s running ability keeps defenses honest and makes them defend the run instead of just locking down on Hackenberg, Robinson and the passing attack.
For a player who was buried on the depth chart at the start of last season, Zwinak has emerged as a legitimate threat and an important piece out of the Penn State backfield.
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