By Harry Allison
Saquon Barkley may be gone, but he wasn’t the only game wrecker on Penn State’s offense last season.
Quarterback Trace McSorley led the Big Ten in passing at 274.6 yards per game, and he’s back for one more season. McSorley was less inclined to go for broke as a junior than he had been as a first-year starter in 2016, and while his average per completion declined from 16.1 to 12.6 yards, his completion rate went from 57.9 to 66.5 percent.
McSorley has a big target in 6-4, 229-pound wideout Juwan Johnson, who finished second on the team with 54 catches for 701 yards as a sophomore.
And keeping McSorley company in the backfield is a promising runner in junior Miles Sanders. During his first two seasons, Sanders averaged 6.7 yards on 56 carries. He surely won’t account for 32.8 percent of Penn State’s all-purpose yards, as Barkley did last year.
But that’s not what the coaching staff is looking for. Coach James Franklin expects to use a more equitable rotation this fall, with seniors Mark Allen and Johnathan Thomas, redshirt freshman Journey Brown and true freshman Ricky Slade competing for carries. There’s ample room for improvement, as the Lions finished sixth in the Big Ten and 59th in the FBS in rushing in 2017.