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Could lack of a ‘true WR1’ make or break the Penn State season?

Does Penn State need a true WR1 to be successful this fall?



Penn State football, Josh Pate
Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin yells during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. Penn State At Ohio State Football Syndication The Columbus Dispatch

The wide receiver room could make or break the Penn State football season this fall. Drew Allar will need a go-to target in critical situations and the Nittany Lions have had that since the 2019 season. K.J. Hamler, Jahan Dotson, and Parker Washington were always security blankets for Sean Clifford during his career, but who will that person be for the 2023 team? Some might say KeAndre Lambert-Smith others argue that’s what Kent State transfer Dante Cephas was brought in for. On Sunday night, CBS Sports college football analyst Josh Pate stated that this component will be very telling on how far this team can go this fall.

Could the lack of a ‘true WR1’ make or break the Penn State season?

This 2023 Penn State team has the chance to be special if all of the question marks are filled in. That doesn’t mean the team needs to have solutions to all of these questions after the first game against West Virginia, but before they go into conference play in week 3, one would hope some of these questions would become more clear.

College football analyst Josh Pate recently released the 2023 JP Poll Preseason Edition on his latest episode of Late Kick with Josh PateIn his poll, Pate ranked Penn State 8th overall going into the season, which is one place behind where the Nittany Lions are ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25 poll.

He provided the following rationale for this ranking by stating “We believe in Drew Allar, the model believes in Drew Allar. KeAndre Lambert-Smith or Dante Cephas, do you have a true wide receiver No. 1 here? The model has a big question mark here, no question on the offensive line, running backs, run game should be incredible.”

Drew Allar certainly has all of the physical talent to be successful and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal in terms of wide receivers and tight ends. It will be up to one or two players to “separate themselves from the pack” as James Franklin said a few weeks ago. One thing is certain and that is even if no wide receivers emerge, Penn State has one of the best tight end rooms in the country which should lighten the load from the wide receivers early on.

Other question marks Josh Pate has about Penn State

Pate continued to speak about the Penn State football team in his episode he said “Defensive line play that’s what the model thinks determines whether this is a top-five unit and a playoff contender. Because if you answer that question, then we are pretty good to go here.”

It’s a great point, defensive end shouldn’t be an issue for Penn State at all this season. But the concern is defensive tackle, the depth took a hit when it was announced that Alonzo Ford will miss the 2023 season. Can Penn State consistently stop the run with Zane Durant, Hakeem Beamon, Coziah Izzard, Dvon Ellies, and Jordan van den Berg? If they can, then this team has a chance to be great this fall.

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By: Morgan Chapman A life long Penn State fan, Morgan is the Site Manager for Basic Blues Nation, host of the Basic Blues Podcast, and co-host of the weekly Penn State Roar Room spaces. Morgan lives in upstate New York with his wife and cats.