There hasn’t been much to complain about with Penn State football’s 2023 season thus far.
The team is 4-0, ranked No. 6 in the country and has beaten its opponents by an average of nearly 32 points.
But if fans and skeptics want to find something that badly, they could point to Penn State not having many explosive plays.
Penn State’s first offensive touchdown of this season came on a 72-yard pass from Drew Allar to KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Since then, the team’s scored 19 offensive touchdowns, and only one has been 25 yards or more. Here are the lengths of the other 18:
Those are some pretty short touchdowns, huh?
Penn State’s played four games this season.
Last season, Penn State had 13 such drives in 13 games.
This creates quite a grind for offensive linemen such as starting right guard Sal Wormley.
But it also creates quite a feeling when Penn State’s on the field for a long time and is rewarded with a touchdown.
During a Zoom call with Penn State beat reporters Wednesday morning, Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle asked Wormley about how the team felt after running 97 plays Saturday compared to just 43 from Iowa in Saturday’s 31-0 Penn State romp.
“It hurt,” Wormley said with a laugh. “It was tiring, but just to know that we can consistently move the ball, play in and play out, get the five yards, get the three yards that we need every play and just stick to the gameplan, being in front of the chains, not behind them. You know, it just helps us out with strategy.
“It helps us be able to do whatever we really want to do. So, I feel like it’s a great thing that we’re able to hang on to the ball for such a long time, have these long drives and really wear out the defense.
Joel Hass of the Daily Collegian subsequently asked Wormley which he preferred between grinding out a long drive and scoring on a quick, explosive play.
“I feel like everybody would prefer to have the one-or two-play drive where you go out there,” Wormley said, “throw a bomb and it’s a touchdown or long run. But it is a different type of satisfaction when you’re out there and you’re 10, 12, 15 plays in. You and your guys just out there sweating, tired, working, and then you finally score… that type of satisfaction is different because you felt like whatever you’re doing, they can’t stop it.”
Going back to Tuesday, Jones asked Franklin if Penn State’s offensive identity is something that allows for the explosive plays that add excitement.
“I’m always looking for balance,” Franklin said. “We’re always looking for balance, and right now I think we have shown the ability to run to win, and we’ve shown the ability to pass to win. I think we need to be able to show that we can grind it out to win, which we have, but I also think we need to show that we can be explosive to win, as well. We’ve done that at times but probably not as much as we’ve grinded it out, but I would also say that also plays a little bit to how people were playing us. We’ve got to be able to show that we can grind it out or be explosive, run the ball to win, pass the ball to win, and we need to continue to grow and develop in the explosive play area.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how Penn State scores as long as it’s scoring. Penn State’s done plenty of that, leading the country with an 11-game streak of scoring 30 points or more.