6-foot-4, 220-pound highly touted Christian Hackenberg was chosen two start his first game as a true freshman for the Penn State Nittnay Lions. Hackenberg would have to begin his career without the Lions most exciting returning player, wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson sat out the first half due to disciplinary reasons. Hackenberg gave Penn State fans plenty to look forward over the coming years as he helped he Lions win their season opener over the Syracuse Orange.
Hackenberg showed poise well beyond his 18 years of age. He was only playing in a nationally televised game, on the road, in front of over 61,000 screaming fans. Hackenberg proved he had a very firm grip of Coach Bill O’Brien’s offense. He even showed great composure running the newly installed hurry up offense. Hackenberg showed his ability to stand in the pocket in the face of pressure. He also had great footwork and when the opportunities presented themselves that big arm of his was displayed as he is more than capable of airing it out.
O’Brien and his staff did not ask too much of Hackenberg but was not overly conservative with the young quarterback. It was obvious that this start was something that the promising young quarterback truly earned through his hard work in camp. Hackenberg did split some time with Tyler Ferguson who also had earned the right for some playing time. Coach O’Brien used this short time on the sideline to coach up his young quarterback.
In the second half, fans were delighted to see the connection between Hackenberg and Robinson that should prove very entertaining and productive this season. Robinson finished the game with seven receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown in just one half of play. Hackenberg was good for 22 of 31 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Hackenberg did throw for two interceptions but the future looks bright for this duo in Happy Valley.