Penn State Football: Five Areas of Improvement for the Nittany Lions

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Dec 27, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions punter Daniel Pasquariello (92) kicks the ball against the Boston College Eagles during the second quarter in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Penn State defeated Boston College 31-30 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Sam Ficken to graduation is actually not as drastic as it once seemed. As shown by the kicking competition prior to the Blue and White game, Penn State has some capable replacements. Right now, it looks like it is Joey “Big Toe” Julius’s job to lose, but Tyler Davis and Chris Gulla could both give him a run for his money.

The punting game is another story. Australian Dan Pasquariello got better as the season wore on, but still had plenty of room to improve. Freshman Robby Leibel will make a push to take over once camp opens in August.

The coverage teams, both kickoff and punt, have left a lot to be desired recently. Some of the blame can rest on the lack of scholarship players, but whatever the reason, the coverage teams must improve. Poor field position as a result of the lack of good coverage cost Penn State several times last season.

The return game has also suffered as of late. Grant Haley has the speed and made some plays last season, and DeAndre Thompkins is expected to be in the running for a spot as a return man. Nick Scott has also been mentioned. Incoming freshman Brandon Polk is another speedster that could offer an option.

Next: Number One Area Needing Improvement