2018 Season Review
The 2018 season for the Penn State Nittany Lions was one of high hopes, disappointing losses and a bright future for many young players. Some players disappointed this season, while others rose to the occasion. Now as the season has come to an end, it’s time to reflect on this season and what it means for the Nittany Lions moving forward.
To start, the question many fans may be asking is did this team reach expectations for this season? In my opinion, I believe that this team, for the most part, reached expectations. Coming into this season, Penn State was projected by many analysts to win about nine to 10 games this season, which it did. When you think about the talent that this team had to replace, it was expected for this team to take a half step backward. Penn State lost seven starters/higher-role players. A lot of inexperienced guys had to play big roles this season. As much as Penn State football always will carry an expectation of winning the Big Ten, this team was one that was not expected to win the conference by most people. A 9-4 record is respectable for a program like Penn State, that has grown so much in recent years.
Next, it’s always interesting to look back at the player that was the biggest surprise. I think the this has to be K.J. Hamler. After coming off a serious knee injury that essentially held out Hamler for two years, he immediately became Penn State’s best option in the passing game. Hamler showed precise route running and a knack for getting yards after the catch. He also had the most reliable hands out of the receiving core, as almost every other receiver on this team struggled to catch the football. Hamler truly came out of nowhere and was really impressive throughout the year. He should be someone that will only get better as his career at Penn State continues.
Sticking with the receiving core, I believe it’s easy to determine who the most disappointing player was this year. It’s none other than Juwan Johnson. Johnson came into the year as Penn State’s No. 1 outside threat, and a guy that was projected to be a day two selection in the NFL draft.
However, drops and injuries plagued Johnson all year, who became a frustrating player to watch every week. Johnson continually made tough catches over defensive backs in traffic, but then followed them up by dropping easy passes when he was open. Now at the end of the season, it appears that Johnson won’t be going anywhere after being Penn State’s biggest disappointment this season.
Lastly, what did we learn about this Penn State team from this season and what does that mean for 2019?
For me, what this team showed me was a team filled with a ton of young, but very unexpected talent. There is no question that this roster is oozing with talent at every position area. What ultimately made this season the one it was for the Nittany Lions was a lot of young guys playing big-time roles. This team will only get better as these young players simply play more football. The biggest question will be if anyone can replace Trace McSorley. Although Tommy Stevens will likely be the starter next year, it’s hard to tell based off this season if Stevens can play at the same level as McSorley. However, this year proved how good this defense can be, and how tough Penn State’s run game is to stop.
Get ready for 2019 because a lot of young players are going to take huge steps forward as they continue to learn and grow.
Mitch Broder is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.