Penn State Under Fire: Spread HD Offense Needs a Second Look
Since its inception in 2008, the Penn State Nittany Lions' offensive scheme has yet to live up to its mantra.
The Spread HD Offense, as it is known since it was unveiled in August 2008, showed significant indications of being capable of high definition.
Since then though, the high definition aspect of this offense has been tranquilized, rendering it as useless as a black-and-white television from the 1950s.
In 2008, the Penn State Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in scoring offense in the inaugural season of this new offensive strategy. Of course, this was the season where Penn State went 11-1 in the regular season before getting dragged through the turf of the Rose Bowl by the USC Trojans.
Still, the idea for this Spread HD offense was to utilize the speed and intelligence of the Penn State playmakers. While it worked in 2008, it has slowly deteriorated into another predictable model of negative growth offensively.
Since its debut, Penn State has regressed offensively. In 2009, the Nittany Lions finished fifth in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Last season, it got worse. The Nittany Lions finished ninth in scoring offense.
Other numerous factors are obviously at play, though. In 2008, Penn State was stacked on both sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Daryll Clark and running back Evan Royster led a Nittany Lions charge that scored nearly 40 points per game. Since then, things have regressed.
With no Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, or Jordan Norwood in 2009, the offense appeared to spread out the field, but they were anything but fast. The high definition aspect was gone. Backup running back Stephfon Green was ineffective for the most part and the new cast of wideouts were still learning the ropes.
Still, Clark's numbers improved. Was this a misnomer or a coincidence? Either way, it looked like some things had to be altered offensively for Penn State.
Well, no alterations appeared to take place. The lack of experience and juggling of two freshman quarterbacks in 2010 dampened expectations for the Nittany Lions in Year 3 of the Spread HD Offense.
The offensive scheme is expected to be a pro-style, glorified version of the wishbone. Instead, it is a spread out, slowly-moving system of cogs that looks predictable beyond comprehension.
With the wishbone comparisons, maybe it is no wonder that the team struggled offensively since last year, both Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin looked immobile or unsure of themselves movement-wise.
Like we saw with its inception in 2008 with Clark, this offense needs not a running quarterback, but one who is effective in the pocket, can read the receivers and defense, all while feeling out what is happening around him and make the defense miss in the backfield.
The excitement of the Spread HD offense that came coupled with its inaugural success in 2008 has since faded.
It is time for Joe Paterno and his son Jay to either dial up some new strategy, reform its current scheme, or find more capable (but talented enough) players to fill the void in this new-look wishbone in order for it to be successful.
With the Big Ten being a wide-open race in 2011, Penn State cannot succumb to mediocrity offensively. They have to ante up their scoring closer to what its level was in 2008 in order to make a run at the Big Ten crown and a possible BCS bowl game.
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