UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Game week has finally arrived in Happy Valley. With less than a week until kickoff against Akron in Beaver Stadium, take a quick look at a few interesting notes to get ready for game day.
From familiar MAC opponents to Nittany Lions on the move in the record book, Penn State Football is nearly back in action.
Mid-American Conference opponents are no stranger to Penn State yearly schedules, making frequent appearances, especially recently. Since 2006, the Nittany Lions have met at least one MAC squad in each year except for the 2008 season. In the same span, Penn State has opened the season with a MAC opponent on four occasions, or five counting 2017, kicking off the year with the Zips in both 2006 and 2009.
More than half of the Nittany Lion coaching staff has made at least one career coaching stop at a current MAC program, with six coaches having spent at least one season at a member institution.
vs. Kent State (33-13, W - season home opener)
2015: vs. Buffalo (27-14, W)
2014: vs. Akron (21-3, W - home opener)
2013: vs. Eastern Michigan (45-7, W - home opener)
vs. Kent State (34-0, W)
2012: vs. Ohio (24-12, L - season home opener)
2011: vs. Eastern Michigan (34-6, W)
2010: vs. Kent State (24-0, W)
2009: vs. Akron (31-7, W - season home opener)
2007: vs. Buffalo (45-24, W)
2006: vs. Akron (34-16, W - season home opener)
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead spent five seasons at Akron, in a variety of position coach roles, serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2006-08. With Moorhead on staff, the Zips made the trip to Happy Valley for Penn State's 2006 season opener, fittingly enough, on September 2nd.
Special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff coached the
running backs at Western Michigan in 2013.
- Tim Banks made stops at Bowling Green (1996, 1999-00) and Central Michigan, serving as the defensive coordinator at Central Michigan from 2007-09. Banks was also a four-year letterman at Central Michigan at cornerback, co-captaining the 1994 MAC Championship team.
- Josh Gattis coached the wide receivers at Western Michigan in 2011.
- Sean Spencer coached the defensive line at Bowling Green from 2009-10.
- Defensive coordinator Brent Pry spent a year at Buffalo as an undergraduate assistant coach in 1992, following a career-ending injury after lettering as a defensive back.
Record Book Watch
Following a record-setting 2016 season, several Nittany Lions will continue their climb through the Penn State record books, approaching a few career milestones to keep an eye on this year.
- Barkley currently ranks 12th on Penn State's career rushing yardage list (2,572), needing just 246 yards to crack into the top 10. He'll need 684 yards to break into the top five and 1,360 yards to match Evan Royster's (2007-10) all-time mark at 3,932 career rushing yards.
- Already in the top 10 with 25 career rushing touchdowns, he's 13 rushing scores outside of matching Lydell Michell's record (38, 1969-71). On the single season side, Barkley's 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 is tied for fifth, with Michell's 26 rushing touchdowns in 1971 holding the top spot.
- Gillikin had a standout rookie season last year, setting the freshman record with a 42.8 punting average in 2016, which also slated him third all-time on the career list. On the career punting average list, Gillikin is slotted behind both George Reynolds (43.0, 1980-83) and Jeremy Boone (43.1, 2007-09).
- McSorley surged to the top of the single season passing yardage list in 2016, throwing for 3,614 yards with 29 touchdown passes. On the career all-time list, he's one spot shy of the top 10 with 3,799 career passing yards, needing 620 yards to break into the top 10 and 1,942 yards to match Daryll Clark (2006-09) at fifth with 5,742 yards. With 31 career touchdown passes, McSorley is already tied for ninth in the record book, but would need 17 just more touchdown passes to match Christian Hackenberg's (2013-15) all-time mark (48).
- McSorley could also crack the top 10 on the Penn State career total offense list with 702 more yards, also trailing the No. 5 slot by 1,793 yards, which is currently held by Tony Sacca (6,000, 1988-91). Having set the single season total offense record last year with 3,979 yards, McSorley also enters 2017 at 4,008 yards behind Hackenberg's career leading total offense record at 8,215 yards.
- Penn State's tackles leader returns in 2016, as Allen enters the 2017 season with 249 career tackles. With a team-high 110 tackles in 2016, Allen finished just outside the top 15 on Penn State's season tackles list. This year, Allen is 24 tackles outside of matching Brandon Short (1996-99) at 10th all-time and 66 tackles shy of equaling Brian Gelzheiser (1991-94) at fifth on the career tackles list (315).
- Hamilton already ranks 10th all-time with 1,985 career receiving yards, but would break into the top five with 410 yards, which would also put him in elite company as the ninth Nittany Lion with 2,000-plus yards. He's also trailing Bobby Engram's all-time career record (3,026) by 1,041 yards. With nine career receiving touchdowns, Hamilton could also enter the top 10 with four more touchdown grabs.
- Hamilton moved into a tie for fourth place on the Nittany Lion career receptions list with 161 catches last year, needing only 18 grabs to match Deon Butler's (2005-08) career mark of 179 career receptions.
- Davis, or Mr. Consistent, as he has come to be known is also currently among Penn State's most accurate field goal-kickers in program history with a 93.8 career clip. Having made 30 of 32 career attempts, he's ranked 12th on the career field goals list, needing to nail six more field goals to match Collin Wagner (2007-10) at 10th all-time.
- Following a 2016 season including the single season record for receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end, Gesicki is poised to take on the career lists in 2017. With 918 career receiving yards, Gesicki is just outside the top five on the tight end career chart needing 425 receiving yards to match Ted Kwalick (1,343, 1966-68) at first all-time.
- With 72 career receptions, Gesicki is also just 15 grabs shy of matching Andrew Quarless (2006-09) with 87 all-time receptions by a tight end.
Remember Last Year ...
Maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing, but Penn State used a solid second-half showing to defeat Kent State, 33-13, in its 2016 season opener. The Nittany Lions scored 17 unanswered points to shutout the Golden Flashes in the second half. Amani Oruwariye highlighted the third quarter with a pick-six, returning it 30 yards for Penn State's first interception return for a touchdown since 2014, while the newly reloaded defensive line helped turn in 6.5 of a season-high seven sacks.