Five Penn State football players to watch

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Oct 10, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 29-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

No. 2 Christian Hackenberg

We’ve covered the playmakers that will be catching the ball, so now let’s break down who will be delivering the pigskin. Christian Hackenberg has had lofty expectations ever since he came to Happy Valley. Hackenberg was tabbed as the man who would lead Penn State away from the infamous sanctions that nearly crippled the program. His freshman campaign was a very successful one as he completed 58.9 percent of his passes and tossed 20 touchdowns in Bill O’Brien‘s final season with the Nittany Lions. Hackenberg responded with a dismal year in 2014 in which he was intercepted 15 times and only threw 12 touchdowns. Many of his passing statistics were down. Of course, some of that can be attributed to the fact that Penn State had a horrific offensive line. 2015 was been a whole lot kinder to the Virginia native. He has thrown for 1,206 yards to go along with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. The only bad game of his season came when Hackenberg only completed 11-of-25 passes for 103 yards and an interception against a stout Temple defense. Of course, now that loss doesn’t look so bad with the Owls being 7-0 and ranked No. 22.

Hackenberg is a typical pro-style quarterback and the Nittany Lions have had success with those types of signal callers in the past. Names like Todd Blackledge, Kerry Collins, and even more recently Matt McGloin come to mind. When you turn on the tape of Hackenberg, one of the first things that you notice is that he can flat-out throw the football. In particular, Hackenberg throws a marvelous deep ball. The junior signal caller is aided by two speedy wideouts in Godwin and Hamilton, but he nearly always puts the ball where it needs to be on deep routes. Hackenberg also possesses tremendous toughness and poise in the pocket. Due to the recent struggles on the offensive line, he has taken a ton of hits and has never even missed a play during his three-year collegiate career. The only true knock on the Penn State junior is his shaky accuracy on intermediate passes.