(Photo credit to Dave Cole/Onward State)
Perhaps one of the biggest — and most pleasant — surprises on Penn State’s young season is that the offense does not ‘miss’ Allen Robinson nearly as much as many folks anticipated.
That lede is not at all intended to be a knock on Robinson. He would be having another great year catching passes from Christian Hackenberg had he elected to stay for his senior season, but the Nittany Lions passing game is operating just fine with him in Jacksonville.
The two Nittany Lions responsible for this almost seamless transition are true sophomore Geno Lewis and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton.
Lewis’ breakout goes back to the season finale against Wisconsin last year when he posted a career-high 91 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win. Lewis has been in full beast mode since then, recording no less than five receptions and 82 yards in every game since.
Hamilton was lesser known than Lewis a month ago, but that held true for all of about three minutes into the season opener when he burst onto the scene against Central Florida. Since then, Hamilton has posted at least 65 yards in all four games.
After Week 1, both receivers were in the Top 10 in the nation for receiving yardage. After Week 2, both of them remained in the Top 14, and following last Saturday, the duo was still right there after playing an instrumental part in Penn State’s comeback against Rutgers. We will provide a current update here when all of the statistics come in following tonight’s games.
As I have pointed out before in those posts, Penn State was the only FBS school with such a distinction, and Hamilton was one of only two players who did not see any snaps in 2013 to rank that high.
Before the season got underway, many believed that the majority of Penn State’s production would come from the tight ends even with Adam Breneman injured. Jesse James has been very good so far, but as of me typing this, 55 of Penn State’s 96 receptions have come via Hamilton and Lewis.
Chart breakdown below:
What. A. Duo.
The way Lewis has progressed has impressed me even more than his raw numbers. He had his moments last season, but I thought he was a bit one-dimensional in terms of running go-routes. When he wasn’t on the receiving end of a perfect deep ball from Hackenberg, he had his share of quiet games including getting completely shut out against Central Florida, Kent State, Illinois, and Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions have not faced the toughest schedule so far, and Hamilton and Lewis will be tested in the coming weeks, but so far, things are going about as well as anyone could have imagined.
The Nittany Lions were able to get the running game going today in a rout against overmatched UMass, but were it not for Hamilton and Lewis, they might be 2-2 rather than 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Thanks to the recruiting work put in by Bill O’Brien and James Franklin’s staff coaching them up, the Nittany Lions were much more prepared to replace their stud receiver than many folks realized.
Does Penn State miss Allen Robinson? Of course they do, but things are just fine without him right now.
Update: Working on the fly but two more thoughts for you in tweet form: