Sep 26, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) avoids a tackle from San Diego State Aztecs defensive back J.J. Whittaker (7) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated San Diego State 37-21. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
No. 1 Saquon Barkley
If you had a chance to watch Penn State’s games against Ohio State or Rutgers, you know all about the hype of star running back Saquon Barkley. In just those two games alone, Barkley rushed for 389 yards (8.3 yards-per-carry) two touchdowns. Penn State has possessed a solid ground attack in recent years, but haven’t had the home run threat of a guy like Barkley. The Whitehall (Pa.) product is currently averaging 8.3 yards-per-carry, which ranks eighth in the country and is even ahead of LSU’s Leonard Fournette and injured Georgia tailback Nick Chubb. That’s pretty remarkable for a true freshman that many thought would have to take a backseat to Akeel Lynch during his first year in Happy Valley.
Barkley is a special type of running back that has incredible vision and knows when to make the right cuts. Penn State has relied on the running game on a lot more with the emergence of Barkley, which definitely takes a good amount of pressure off Hackenberg. Barkley is the type of running back that hits the hole hard, and doesn’t go down easily. Slowing him down definitely has to be the top priority for the Maryland defense. The Terps are owners of the second-worst run defense in the Big Ten, allowing 196.8 yards-per-game on the ground. This will be an extremely difficult task.