Joe Moorhead was exactly right to dump water on the Trace McSorley hot takes
There’s a group of Penn State doubters that formed a bit of a narrative during the Lions’ improbable run to the Rose Bowl in 2016.
They didn’t think the Lions’ passing game was anything more than big, athletic receivers catching jump balls. They weren’t sold on Trace McSorley as one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and they question how they can possibly re-create the 2016 magic.
Joe Moorhead is here to squash those hot takes.
The Penn State offensive coordinator met with the media on Saturday, and he was asked about what he thought of McSorley taking the next step.
Here was Moorhead’s entire answer:
His next step? Well, I think that brings up an interesting topic. You know kind of this thought process that’s prevailing that you hear about — and frankly, this is gross mischaracterization, number one, of the application of our offense and [number two] the role of the quarterback — that Trace just drops back and picks the deepest receiver and chucks the ball up and hopes the guy makes the play. That’s, in a lot of ways, ridiculous at best and, quite frankly, asinine at worst.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this. A kid couldn’t lead the league in multiple passing categories and set school single-season records and be on the verge of multiple other school records if he was just throwing the ball indiscriminately down the field. In a lot of ways, I feel that minimizes the role of the people who game plan the plays, the person who calls them, and the player who executes them.
I think Trace, he just has to understand — and he does, the preparation aspect of it is incredibly important. He does that. He’s understanding the offense better. Just keep doing the things he does.
You hear people say, “well, are you guys going to be able to consistently live on the 50-50 ball down the field?” That’s not what we do. Our offense is designed to stretch defenses horizontally and vertically and create mismatches by a number of personnel. So the things that we did throwing the ball down the field, they didn’t happen by chance, they happened by choice.
To answer your question, Trace is going to continue his overall development by working on his preparation, his effort, and his execution.
You’ll notice that Moorhead said that the gross mischaracterization that McSorley just drops back, picks the deepest receiver and chucks the ball up in hopes he makes the play is “ridiculous at best and quite frankly asinine at worst.”
He’s exactly right.
Did McSorley benefit from a couple busted coverages in the B1G Championship? Certainly, but he was only able to exploit that matchup because of his mobility and willingness to throw deep.
Moorhead reminded everyone that McSorley led the B1G in passing, which doesn’t happen by chance. And for those saying that McSorley just throws 50-50 balls, Moorhead said that they aren’t drawn up as jump balls. Penn State makes those plays in the right situations to take advantage of matchups.
It’ll be interesting to see if the deep ball is still as big a part of Penn State’s offense as it was last year. McSorley will have to find a new Chris Godwin-like playmaker, but he still has plenty of big-time targets to work with in Mike Gesicki, Juwan Johnson and Saeed Blacknall.
What Moorhead said speaks to McSorley’s personality. He’s confident, he takes chances and above all else, he’s a winner. To have an offensive coordinator go to bat for him like that — not that McSorley needed him to — says a lot about how far this group has come.
Moorhead will have plenty more chances to make some loud on-the-field statements in 2017.