Archive

ShareThis Page
Penn State quarterback Hackenberg fighting through some struggles | TribLIVE.com
PennState

Penn State quarterback Hackenberg fighting through some struggles

PTRPSUfb7102614
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) walks off the field after throwing a first-quarter interception to Ohio State defensive back Vonn Bell (11) on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in University Park.

His passing efficiency rating suggests Christian Hackenberg has been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the country.

Though some reasons for his struggles are out of his control, the Penn State sophomore quarterback has been quick to refute any justification for a 112.4 rating that ranks 100th in the FBS.

To those pointing out his supporting cast lacks experience and depth, Hackenberg said: “It’s what I signed up for.”

To those suggesting he has not had adequate protection, Hackenberg said: “You’ve just got to keep fighting through it. That’s part of the deal.”

To those saying too much has been expected of the former five-star recruit to carry a sanctions-saddled roster, Hackenberg said: “There’s never too much of an expectation. … I need to do my job.”

There are 113 quarterbacks who qualify for the NCAA passer efficiency rating leaders. Only 13 rank lower than Hackenberg. Only four quarterbacks have started every game for their team and own a worse passer efficiency rating then Hackenberg.

The frustration is showing in Hackenberg’s body language during games. Cameras have caught him having animated discussions with coaches.

On Saturday, after the Nittany Lions’ fourth straight loss, Hackenberg dismissed those discussions as “just us being competitive” and said of offensive coordinator John Donovan and quarterback coach Ricky Rahne, “I trust both those guys with my life.”

Coach James Franklin acknowledged Hackenberg’s public displays of frustration have “been a discussion point.” Franklin, who sat down with Hackenberg on Monday, added he thought attention on the sideline emotion is getting blown out of proportion because of the losing streak and Hackenberg’s general field demeanor.

“There is some frustration that is showing at times,” Franklin said. “But he’s an animated guy who’s passionate about what we’re doing.”

Hackenberg’s season is not short on highlights.

He is the Big Ten passing yardage leader and on his way to rewriting the quarterback section of the PSU record book. There also were clutch winning drives against Central Florida and Rutgers.

But Hackenberg’s statistical troubles extend beyond efficiency.

He’s 82nd in yards per completion (11.14) and has thrown at least one interception in every full game in which he has played this season.

During the Lions’ losing streak, Hackenberg has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 194.3 yards per game with three touchdowns and five interceptions — a 99.9 efficiency rating that would be 111th nationally.

Hackenberg has more than once suggested he misses the tutelage of Bill O’Brien, who left for the Houston Texans. Hackenberg’s strongest words were to Sports Illustrated: “Coach Franklin’s system is more of a college system. Coach O’Brien’s system was upper-level, as pro as they get. I had free reign at the line of scrimmage.”

Franklin concedes the past three years have been a difficult transition for Hackenberg, who withstood public pressure in sticking with a high-profile commitment to PSU despite NCAA sanctions.

“But I think we’re in a really good place,” Franklin said after his meeting with Hackenberg. “I think he’s handling everything well, considering he’s a 19-year-old true sophomore with a lot of external things going on. I’m pleased with him and know he’s going to play really well on Saturday.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.