Penn State’s Zach Zwinak Poised for Big 2013 Season

By Scott Peceny
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Penn State Nittany Lions‘ running back Zach Zwinak rushed for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in what was his sophomore season for the Lions.

Beginning the season behind Bill Belton on the depth chart, Zwinak was not expected to make much of an impact. Then, Belton got caught in head coach Bill O’Brien’s doghouse, giving Zwinak a shot at the starting job.

Zwinak seized the opportunity and ran with it (literally), amassing 1,000 yards in essentially nine games. Zwinak did see action in a tenth game, in which he rushed three times for two yards. Zwinak rushed for 100 yards or more on six occasions, including a 179-yard performance in the Nittany Lions’ season finale against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Zwinak is a bruising runner at 6-foot-1, 234 pounds, and some pundits have argued that O’Brien will favor his more explosive runners, like Belton, in 2013.

For one, I believe that to be false. Secondly, having a speedy cohort in the backfield alongside Zwinak can only help him.

After his performance in 2012, Zwinak has surely proven himself to his teammates. He will see plenty of carries and will do a lot with them. With a speedy guy like Belton also in the mix, Zwinak can ease up on his workload, keeping him fresher later into games. In addition, Zwinak’s power will seem even greater after the defense has tackled the much smaller Belton.

With Matt McGloin gone, Zwinak will be a leader on offense this season. He has the work ethic and experience to have a great season in 2013, and don’t be surprised when his name comes up in the All-Big Ten conversation.

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