UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — One of the biggest moments in Penn State’s season opening win Thursday was the 67 yard touchdown pass to Brenton Strange. Penn State’s tight ends had one of their best games as a unit since early last year, which that performance was by design.
James Franklin has said since last season that this tight end group is the deepest he’s ever had and expectations were high for the unit last season, but they were plagued by inconsistencies.
After a big splash early in the season last year where the Nittany Lion tight end group scored a couple touchdowns against Auburn, Penn State’s tight ends were kept relatively quiet. However, getting that group more involved became a top priority. That was made apparent in the season opener against Purdue where Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren both made game altering plays to lead the Nittany Lions to their week one win.
“We gotta first learn from what we did in the game. The goods and the bads, learn from that,” said Warren. “And then it really just comes down to what the offense needs from us week to week because I feel like our position is very versatile.
The tight ends didn’t make a ton of plays, but they made the ones they did make count. Strange hauled in a 67 yard touchdown reception to close out the first half and Warren caught a 15 yard pass in the red zone to set up Penn State’s winning score.
“When we get the throws we gotta catch them and try to get yards after the catch,” Warren said. “Stuff like that and if we do good in some aspects it will play off the other ones.
The 100 yard receiving performance was the first for the unit since the Auburn game in week three a year ago, and while coach Franklin is pleased with how the unit performed in the passing game against Purdue, he see’s more room for growth in the run blocking.
“When we talk about the run game it’s not just the o-line it’s the o-line and tight ends together,” said Franklin. “Really the whole unit specifically at the point of attack you’re talking about the o-line and tight ends so I think they can be better in that area as well.”
Theo Johnson didn’t play in week one, but James Franklin said he’s hopeful that Johnson will be able to go against Ohio on Saturday.