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How to fix Penn State Football’s broken running game


Taking a deeper dive into Penn State Football’s inept running game and how to possibly fix it

Oh boy.

One of the biggest storylines of the college football season, and certainly a contributing factor to the Nittany Lions‘ title hopes coming undone by the time the calendar turned to November was an inability to gain any traction in the running game.

My initial thought is to burn all of the game tapes from this year, along with the film room itself just for good measure.

Torch it all.

Start over next year so we can quickly forget watching Penn State Football continually bang its head against a concrete wall over and over and over and over.

There’s no way this will continue. Right?

Well, it’s possible if nothing changes in the offseason. Because even my non-college-football-coaching-eyes can see that. Changes will need to be made and issues will need to be addressed.

And, if we’re going to try and “fix” the issue, we need to first get to the root of the problem. Cue Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane in Moneyball, “Okay good. What’s the problem? … There are teams with good running games, there are teams with mediocre running games, then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s Penn State Football’s running game.”

So, that’s what we’re going to attempt to do. And to do it, I am going to go through a handful of “issues” the general public thinks is the problem and then grade it on my “Is this really a problem?” scale.

And hopefully this highly scientific endeavor will yield the true issues in Penn State Football’s ground game and how they can be fixed going forward.

Here’s a blueprint for how to fix Penn State Football’s broken running game:

Issue No. 1 – Phil Trautwein stinks and Penn State needs a new Oline coach

Okay, before we dive into this one, without looking it up, how many offensive line coaches has James Franklin had in his eight season at Penn State?

Hey, you’re right. It has been three. So do you really think a fourth offensive line coach in nine years would fix the issue?

Do offensive line coaches get to Happy Valley and then all of a sudden forget how to coach?

Wait, don’t answer that. Because even though my brain tried its best to erase all memories of Matt Limegrover’s tenure at Penn State, it failed. Do you remember when Penn State Football had three future NFL players playing together on the same line (Will Fries, Connor McGovern, and Ryan Bates) under Limegrover? Yeah, me neither.

Okay, so outside of Limegrover, Herb Hand did a respectable job with the scarecrow, turnstile, stop sign, banana, and traffic cone left over from the Bill O’Brien days and so far the jury is still out on Trautwein.

Phil was the starter for two BCS Championships teams in Florida, he briefly played in the NFL, and he did a phenomenal job coaching the offensive line in Boston College for two years prior to coming to Penn State.

So did Trautwein suddenly forget what it takes to be a good lineman? I don’t think so. However, I do think the issue possibly runs deeper regardless of who the offensive line coach is.

Is this really a problem? No

Moving on.