With spring ball now complete, Penn State Football turns their attention to the 2022 season, which is now about 100 days away from kicking off.
Coming off a 7-6 season, there are certainly some flaws for this team, which we discussed in our ’causes for concern’ article, but there are also more than enough reasons to be optimistic that the Nittany Lions will have a bounce back season.
Replacing Jahan Dotson is no easy task, but the skill position group as a whole (wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks) should be much improved from a year ago.
Plus, the Nittany Lions have to replace some star players on defense, but they also return a lot too – and they’ll be playing for a new defensive coordinator, which could also turn out to be beneficial.
Having so many talented freshmen from the 2022 recruiting class also helps this team, especially when it comes to adding depth to the quarterback room.
These are four reasons that Penn State Football fans should be optimistic about the upcoming campaign.
An improved group of offensive skill players
Through a combination of talented returning players, a key transfer portal addition, and some excellent true freshmen, Penn State’s offensive skill positions figure to be much better than they were a year ago.
The only real weapon that the Nittany Lions lost from last year’s offense is Jahan Dotson, and while he was one of the best receivers in the country, the wide receiver room should be better this year – top to bottom – than in 2021.
The duo of Parker Washington and Mitchell Tinsley should be just as good as the duo of Dotson and Washington, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Malick Meiga – who will compete for the final starting spot – have both shown a ton of upside as well.
Redshirt freshman Harrison Wallace is also a star waiting to be born, and he has incredible athleticism, which was on display in his touchdown catch in the corner of the endzone in the spring scrimmage. He will help to provide some great depth at the wide receiver position, along with true freshman Kaden Saunders.
Penn State Football also returns their top three tight ends from a year ago in Theo Johnson, Brenton Strange, and Tyler Warren. None of them were great last year, but they were all solid and will continue to improve.
At running back, the Nittany Lions return their most productive rusher from 2021, Keyvone Lee. Listed at 234 pounds, he is not the most elusive back, but he seemed much quicker and more decisive in the spring game than he has in the past.
He is joined in the running back room by a pair of dynamic true freshman, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Singleton can provide that explosive presence in the backfield that the Nittany Lions have lacked since Journey Brown, while Allen is a very mature and well-rounded back that can be a key contributor in the rotation.
Finally at quarterback, Sean Clifford returns for his fourth year as a starter, and while he may not be a Heisman caliber quarterback, should improve in year two under Mike Yurcich. Plus, he will have a backup (Christian Veilleux) that has proven he can play in the Big Ten, which is something they did not have a year ago.
Behind them will be two young, but talented true freshmen, making this the best quarterback room that Penn State has had in a long time.
All of these factors put the Nittany Lions among the best offensive skill groups in the Big Ten.
Along with hopefully some help from the offensive line, this offense can be much better than the one that averaged just 25 points and 376.4 yards per game in 2021, both of which were well below the national average.