Michigan on High Alert for Penn State QB Trace McSorley

Michigan on High Alert for Penn State QB Trace McSorley

Football

Michigan on High Alert for Penn State QB Trace McSorley

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — No more Saquon Barkley and no more Joe Moorhead coordinating Penn State’s offense, but that doesn’t mean that Michigan isn’t on high alert for the Nittany Lions’ sometimes high-powered offense.

And at the center of that offense is one constant: quarterback Trace McSorley.

In 2016, the last time he played in Ann Arbor, McSorley was 16 of 27 for 121 yards and a touchdown through the air, with -6 rushing yards on 9 attempts. Wolverines fans who envisioned a similar outcome in 2017 were treated to an opposite occurrence, despite completing just one more pass on one less attempt. McSorley brutalized Michigan’s secondary in Happy Valley, completing 17 of 26 for 282 yards and one touchdown through the air — but it was his legs that made more of a difference, as he rushed 11 times for 76 yards and 3 touchdowns a year ago.

This time around, Michigan is on high alert for everything that McSorley brings to the table on his return visit to The Big House, and Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh says that he sees a quarterback that has everything going for him.

“Terrific player,” Harbaugh said. “Consistently plays really well. Poses a threat in the passing game, defending the passer. He’s running the ball a lot more this year, very effectively. He’s quite a quarterback.

Win it factor shows up over and over. Big challenge for our team this week.”

So the challenge doesn’t just lie with keeping McSorley’s arm in check, as he’s a dangerous runner when given the chance. This year, he’s only completing 52.8% of his passes, but has 12 touchdowns to 4 interceptions and still averages 203.5 yards per game through the air. On the ground, he’s rushing for 5.61 yards per carry, and has 617 yards rushing through just 8 games.

For a player like Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich, getting to and containing McSorley remains a big challenge, but one that he and his team feels up to, as the Wolverines continue marching through his coined ‘revenge tour.’

“Penn State’s a great team,” Winovich said. “They have, obviously one of the best playmakers – besides Shea Patterson – in college football with Trace. The dude knows how to win. I have the utmost respect for their coaching staff and players. It’s gonna be a fun week in terms of preparation, which we’ve already got a leg up on. Just in terms or preparation and this week in general, because I’m from Pennsylvania, it’s a cool kind of special game for me.

“They present a lot of challenges we’ve gotta address and we’re gonna have to execute every play.”

“They’re just a dangerous team,” third-year defensive tackle Carlo Kemp said. “They run their scheme really, really well. Trace McSorley is a really good quarterback. He’s a competitor and he’s hard to stop. And the way they run their offense, they just run it really well.”

On the defensive line, Kemp is another player who will be responsible for containing McSorley, and keeping him on his heels as he rushes from the 3-technique position.

But, what goes into keeping the enigmatic Nittany Lions QB in check? Keeping focused on the job at hand, every play, Kemp says.

“Just making sure you read your keys properly,” Kemp said. “Making sure you do your job – don’t try to do too much. If you have the quarterback, make sure you have the quarterback. Because, if you don’t, you’ll be looking at him going that way.”

But the Michigan defense has to key in on more than McSorley, because he’s isn’t the only player that can hurt you if he’s the sole focus.

Wolverines cornerback David Long watched the Penn State – Iowa game during the bye week, and he came away with another player that’s impressed him for the Nittany Lions: running back Miles Sanders.

Sanders leads the team in rushing with 834 yards in 8 games, rushing for an average of 6.13 yards per carry, with 8 touchdowns carrying the ball on the ground.

So, for the maize and blue, it’s a veritable pick your poison when it comes to Penn State.

“Miles Sanders is really good athlete,” Long said. “We didn’t get to see much of him the last few years because of Saquon Barkley, but he’s a really good athlete. Definitely capable. Catch it out of the backfield, run, break tackles. He’s not the same size, but similar skills. He’s a good player.”

Michigan will host PSU at The Big House this Saturday with a slated kickoff set for 3:45PM.

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