PSU look­ing for of­fen­sive push

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Travis John­son

STATE COL­LEGE » Penn State needs more out of its of­fense or the 21st-ranked Nit­tany Lions might not get much more out of their sea­son.

The team started the year with Big Ten cham­pi­onship and play­off hopes and had av­er­aged 49 points over a 24-3 stretch. But the Nit­tany Lions have hit a wall with Wis­con­sin (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) up next.

Penn State (6-3, 3-3, No. 20 CFP) will try to erase last week’s hu­mil­i­at­ing loss in Ann Ar­bor where its of­fense was held to sin­gle dig­its for the first time since 2014.

“It’s go­ing to be very im­por­tant that we find a way to es­tab­lish the run game,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “So there’s not so much on the shoul­ders of Trace McSor­ley.”

The Nit­tany Lions av­er­aged 252 yards rush­ing through the first six weeks of the sea­son and had 200plus on the ground in nine straight games, dat­ing back to last year. They’ll take to Beaver Sta­dium on Satur­day look­ing for a spark after av­er­ag­ing just 120 rush­ing over the last three games.

Run­ning back Miles San­ders has re­mained dili­gent. He said the backs paid a visit to the of­fen­sive line room this week to let the line­men know they have faith in them. Franklin does, too. He’s seen them crack open holes for San­ders, whose pa­tient ap­proach can quickly be­come big plays — like a 48-yard touch­down sprint through mul­ti­ple tack­lers against Michi­gan State four weeks ago.

But those chunk runs have been rare, es­pe­cially as McSor­ley, the other cog in the two-headed rush­ing at­tack, has dealt with a sore right knee.

“Miles has shown that he can be a big-play back in this con­fer­ence and that he can carry the load and get you the tough yards, as well as the big plays,” Franklin said.

TONY DING — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Penn State’s Miles San­ders (24) rushes against Michi­gan in Ann Ar­bor, Mich.

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