The Penn State Nittany Lions start the 2014 season today in the Croke Park Classic against the UCF Knights. Penn State will be looking for revenge against a UCF team that came into Beaver Stadium in 2013 and walked out with an upset victory. While many fans were unable to make the trip across the Atlantic, the game will be shown to a national television audience.
If you are planning on waking up early and gathering in front of a TV for the game, the game is on ESPN2 at 8:30 am EST.
If you can’t get to a TV, the game is streaming live on WatchESPN.
Below are some of my thoughts as we approach kickoff in Penn State’s season opener.
• After all the changes over the offseason and all the talk, it’s time to finally take the field. Because it’s the first game, and especially due to the unusual travel schedule, I expect to see the Penn State offense be out of sync to start this game. Sure, Christian Hackenberg is back, but he’ll be playing behind a very inexperienced offensive line. That is going to likely throw off his timing. And as far as who he’ll throw too, all of the wide receivers are new starters. I also expect a period of adjustment with Hackenberg and his wide receivers.
• Due to depth issues caused by the NCAA sanctions, several freshman may have to step up this year. Wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins could use his speed to play a big role on special teams. Dasean Hamilton, who’s yet to play in a college game, is listed as a starting wide receiver on the depth chart. On defense, linebacker Koa Farmer and defensive back Grant Haley could also see some action during today’s game.
• With Allen Robinson gone, it’s time for Geno Lewis to step up. Robinson was a HUGE part of the offense and two years ago made former walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin look like an All-American. Last year, Robinson was a favorite target of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg and helped with the signal-caller’s development. This year, it’s Lewis who will be counted on as the No. 1 receiver. He finished 2013 well and will look to keep the momentum rolling at the start of 2014. He’s put in extended work in the offseason and I’m guess he’s ready to be Penn State’s top man in the passing game.
This game marks the long-awaited Penn State debut of James Franklin as Penn State’s head coach. Sit back, get the coffee brewing and enjoy some early-morning football.