Penn State has had an historically bad offensive line over the past couple of seasons. It was so bad that quarterback Christian Hackenberg was sacked 103 times over the course of three seasons, something that has been cited as one of the main reasons for his obvious regression.
Head coach James Franklin brought Herb Hand with him from Vanderbilt to coach the offensive line when he took the job in 2014. Though the position coach is ultimately the first to take the fall, the unit’s struggles shouldn’t be blamed completely on Hand. NCAA sanctions ensured that the Nittany Lions had a small roster, and the offensive line suffered because of it.
The program moved on and recently named former Minnesota assistant Matt Limegrover as Hand’s successor. On the surface, it looks like a fantastic hire. In addition, the Nittany Lions have a strong group of young linemen coming in as a part of the class of 2016. National Signing Day is just a couple of days away, but as of now, four offensive linemen have committed.
Guard Michal Menet and tackle Will Fries will join the team in the summer, while center Connor McGovern and tackle Alex Gellerstedt have already enrolled at the university.
Penn State will be losing center Angelo Mangiro to graduation, and he was probably the Nittany Lions’ best and most consistent lineman over the past few seasons. It’s unclear how improved the returning starters will be, but many of their problems can be attributed to being thrown into the mix way too soon. With good coaching and another offseason under their belt, the unit may look much better with the help of their young, talented recruits.