New Faces on the Sidelines for the 2016 Season
The Nittany Lions have begun the process of grooming new starters, and there are some fresh faces helping the Lions grow into perennial Big Ten contenders. Coaches Matt Limegrover, Tim Banks, and Joe Moorhead will be joining the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff for the upcoming season. Each brings in a wealth of experience and knowledge that Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions will need if they want to compete with power teams such as Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The area of play that needs the most attention for this season is the offensive line and coach Matt Limegrover is looking to lead the o-line away from their dismal season last year. This is the same unit that allowed 38 sacks last year, ten of which came in an unexpected and shocking loss to the Temple Owls.
Limegrover comes most recently from Big Ten rival the Minnesota Golden Gophers where he served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach under former coaching great Jerry Kill. Limegrover helped the Gophers secure two consecutive eight win seasons in 2013 and 2014, along with three bowl wins from 2011 to 2015. Prior to that he coached seven All Mid-American Conference lineman during his time with the Northern Illinois Huskies from 2008-2010.
Limegrover brings great success and vast knowledge that will help out new starters such as sophomore Ryan Bates and senior Derek Dowrey. This will come in handy while trying to keep new starting quarterback Trace McSorley off the ground and on the field for the entire season, which was a struggle with Christian Hackenberg last season. Limegrover also looks to help returning starters like offensive captain Brian Gaia perform to their true potential, and hopefully mentor a few All-Americans while here in Happy Valley.
The offensive line is not the only unit dealing with coaching changes as Trace McSorley will be trained under the advisement of Joe Moorhead. Coach Moorhead comes into his first season with Penn State as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Like coach Limegrover, Moorhead brings in vast knowledge on the offensive side of the ball coming into his 19 season as a collegiate coach.
Moorhead comes to Penn State fresh off a stint with the Fordham Rams as head coach. He took what was a miserable program at 1-10 in 2012 and led them to their best season in school history in 2013 where they won the Patriot League and finished the season ranked fifth in the FCS. Coach Moorhead puts his sights on Trace McSorley and the rest of the Penn State offense this season looking for major improvements from last year.
Moorhead brings an up tempo spread offense to Penn State which starkly contrasts the play of Penn State’s past teams. The team looks to move on from a pro style passing offense built around the quarterback to a spread running game designed for surging sophomore running back Saquon Barkley. The spread will also help keep pressure off of the inexperienced McSorley, who won’t always be relied on to make big plays with his arm. Moorhead’s scheme looks to be a major step in the right direction for the Nittany Lions.
The final addition to the Penn State coaching staff comes in the form of co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks. Banks’ first season with the Nittany Lions comes in his 20 season as a collegiate coach.
Banks is coming off a four year run with Big Ten foe Illinois Fighting Illini where he held the same positions and guided the team to a bowl appearance in 2014. Banks’ greater success came while he was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach with the Cincinnati Bearcats. From 2010-2011, Banks helped the Bearcats to a Big East Co-Championship as well as putting their rush defense in the top ten and their sack totals at second in the nation.
The rush defense for the Nittany Lions is an area that is in need of serious improvements. The team allowed nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground last season. Coach Banks looks to improve upon these numbers with a more downhill, aggressive defensive scheme that worked so well before in Cincinnati. The passing defense looks to keep up the success of last year as they only allowed 14 passing touchdowns in 13 games. Banks also has had success in this area, as he recharged Illinois’ subpar passing defense, putting them in the top 15 in passing yards allowed last season. Coach Banks looks to build upon what was the better third of the Penn State attack last year.
The Lions have new talent both on the field, and on the sidelines. These coaches look to progress each of their respective units to the next level in order to put the Nittany Lions back in the conversation with the great teams of the Big Ten.
Travis Sutton is a freshman majoring in telecommunications, to contact him email email@example.com.