The 2012 Penn State Nittany Lion football season entered new territory never seen by any member of the Nittany Lion fan base. The once proud and dominant football program was suddenly crippled and cast in the dark after a scandal involving Jerry Sandusky.
For the first time since 1966, Joe Paterno was no longer the head coach in Happy Valley, either. Bill O’Brien took the reigns after coaching in the NFL for years and is leading Penn State into a new era.
With everything that went on, Penn State could have laid down and quit. But they fought through scandal and players leaving and all the attention to go 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, despite a new offense and shaky quarterback play.
Penn State finished seventh in the conference in scoring offense, scoring 29.1 points per game on the season. For total offense, the Nittany Lions finished fourth in the conference, averaging 417.5 yards per game on the year. While these are good numbers, you certainly expect them to improve under Bill O’Brien.
A lot of the success the team either will or won’t have will be placed on whomever the quarterback is to start the season. Sophomore Tyler Ferguson won the job out of spring ball, but incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg is expected to give him a good battle for the starting spot.
At running back, Zach Zwinak returns after a 1,000-yard rushing season and is a big bruiser of a back.
The Nittany Lions also return possibly the best receiver in the Big Ten in Allen Robinson. Robinson had 77 catches for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore last season and should do even better this season.
Kyle Carter returns after a solid freshman campaign at tight end and is one of the best young offensive players in the conference.
The Nittany Lions will need solid quarterback play to get the ball in the hands of all the playmakers they have returning. If they are able too, the Penn State can be a force once again in the Big Ten.