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Andy Kotelnicki Brought In to Improve Penn State Offense

Penn State’s head coach James Franklin has made significant offseason moves to bolster the Nittany Lions’ offense, but challenges remain for the 2024 season. Despite improvements, Penn State’s schedule includes three formidable defenses that could pose serious tests.

Penn State’s 2023 Defensive Success and Transition

In 2023, Penn State boasted one of the nation’s best defenses, earning Manny Diaz a head coaching position at Duke. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen inherits a talented unit despite losing key players to the NFL. Standouts like Abdul Carter, Dani Dennis-Sutton, and Kevin Winston Jr. are expected to lead the defense, supplemented by two SEC transfer cornerbacks.

Offensive Overhaul for Drew Allar

Franklin’s primary focus this offseason has been on enhancing the offense for second-year starting quarterback Drew Allar. He brought in Andy Kotelnicki, an innovative offensive coordinator from Kansas, and secured Julian Fleming from Ohio State as Allar’s top target. While the defense is strong, the offense must prove its mettle against these three tough opponents on the schedule.

1. Wisconsin Badgers

Under Mike Tressel, Wisconsin’s defense was impressive in 2023 despite the team’s 7-6 record. They finished in the top 40 in total defense and 25th in yards per play, allowing just 20.2 points per game. Penn State will face their first major test in Madison on October 26, right before the crucial Ohio State game.

2. Maryland Terrapins

Maryland’s defensive stats in 2023 were notable, finishing 14th in yards per play allowed and 20th in yards per rush. Despite losing key defensive backs like Tarheeb Still, Beau Brade, and Corey Coley Jr., the team’s depth was evident in their 31-13 Music City Bowl win over Auburn. Key players like Perry Fisher, Mykel Morman, Kevis Thomas, Quashon Fuller, and Donnel Brown are expected to step up this season.

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Jack Sawyer (33) can't get to Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15)

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State was among the top teams in college football in 2023, with a dominant defense that finished third in total defense, second in yards per play, and first against the pass. Despite losing four players to the NFL, they retained significant talent and added Caleb Downs from Alabama, the top freshman in the country last season. With players like JT Tuimolau, Jack Sawyer, Tyleik Williams, Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun, Sonny Styles, and Lathan Ransom, the Buckeyes could have the best defense in 2024, presenting a formidable challenge for Penn State.

Penn State’s revamped offense under Kotelnicki and Allar will face these challenging defenses in the 2024 season, making for a potentially thrilling campaign.

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