The Penn State Nittany Lions and experimentation aren’t exactly two things that go hand-in-hand. However, James Franklin is not Joe Paterno, and it appears the days of experimenting have arrived in Happy Valley.
According to a tweet from BTN.com’s Tom Deinhart the Nittany Lions’ offense is experimenting with some new formations — including the wildcat formation.
James Franklin ran some Wildcat formation at Vandy. And he will here. Have already seen Hackenberg split wide. pic.twitter.com/l1wBVbQqUs
— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) August 9, 2014
Yes, that’s right…star quarterback Chrisitian Hackenberg could be taking some snaps lined up as a wide receiver in 2014, if this formation actually sees the light of day.
Hackenberg threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, but he could be adding to his arsenal this year it appears. What is interesting is seeing him split out wide instead of in the backfield. Yet, a look at Hackenberg’s rushing numbers may tell us exactly why.
Not only did he rush for negative yards on the season, Hackenberg only had four games where he was in positive rushing territory and his best game was a 10-yard performance against Illinois at home. In fact, Hackenberg was in negative rushing territory in each of his first seven games last season.
Instead, this could be seen as a move to get more of the three-headed monster at running back on the field and help the offensive line out a bit as well.
Last season the Nittany Lions saw Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch combine for 2,150 yards on the ground and getting them even more involved while the passing game evolves without Allen Robinson appears to be a wise choice for this coaching staff.
Spreading a defense out and making them play against the run and pass at the same time can help ease some of the pressure on the offensive line — a group that is a major question mark for this team heading in to the season.
Now the question is, will this be something that actually gets used on gamedays or is Franklin just giving it a look during fall camp to see how it works for this team?