College Football Preview: The 2015 Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State Nittany Lions Preview
2014 Record: 7-6 (58th of 128) Won Pinstripe Bowl 31-30 vs. Boston College
Odds to Win National Championship: +18000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Penn State Nittany Lions are out of the woodworks with the NCAA and have to feel great about James Franklin after seven wins in his first season. For the first time in about five years, there’s a lot of excitement in College Station, as the Nittany Lions have a bright light at the end of a tunnel, and they can get closer to that brightness this season.
Offense: First off, Penn State has one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Christian Hackenberg. Yes, Hackenberg completed less than 56 percent of his passes last season, but he has an NFL skill set and had to deal with one of the worst offensive lines in college football. Penn State allowed 44 sacks last season but returns four starters from that offensive line. Akeel Lynch will still lead the way at running back after topping 600 rushing yards and Nick Scott is a talented redshirt freshman who get a bulk of carries. Receivers DaeSean Hamilton, Geno Lewis and Chris Godwin all played well last season and should be even better with a full year of solid production.
USA TODAY Sports
Defense: Penn State returns six starters from a defense that ranked second in the country only behind Clemson. Impressive, huh? The strength of this unit will be the defensive line, as Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson combined for 23 tackles for loss last season. The secondary is also a strong point after Marcus Allen shined as a freshman, and Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams have proven to be reliable players and bring experience to the table as well. The only real concern with this defense is at linebacker with Mike Hull graduating. However, Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell played well enough last season to put concerns to rest. This Penn State defense will be physical and should be one of the best in the Big Ten.
Special Teams: Daniel Pasquariello returns at punter after averaging 37.3 yards on 47 punt attempts. Joey Julius could end replacing Sam Ficken at field goal kicker.
Overall: Penn State is well coached, has a great defense and a quarterback who is experienced and talented as any in the country. The Nittany Lions look like a contending team in the Big Ten. However, everything comes down to how well the offensive line performs. If the OL holds up, PSU will be in the mix in a highly competitive East.