By LARRY VAUGHT
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has had a record-setting career with the Nittany Lions and will be a major test for Kentucky’s defense Tuesday in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
“When he starts to scramble, he can throw the ball effectively down the field. I feel like he’s a great mobile quarterback. He knows how to get out the pocket when he feels pressure,” UK All-American linebacker Josh Allen said.
The senior said UK’s defense has to rush as a group to keep pressure on McSorley.
“Can’t just rush by myself. We all have to do our job to contain rush,” Allen said. “He’ll find the littlest crack and take it home if he can. I just do my job and then everybody else has to do theirs and hopefully we’ll get home.”
Some have suggested that Penn State’s offense is similar to that of Mississippi State with quarterback Nik Fitzgerald. Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House says the systems are similar but the personnel is way different.
“I think the quarterbacks are different. (Miles) Sanders, the running back, presents different issues. He’s really effective. He catches the ball out of the backfield really well. He can make shallow cuts and accelerate, really an elusive guy and he’s got good speed,” House said.
“I think Hamler, the slot, Johnson, the receiver —that’s where the biggest differences are. I think they do a great job of using their personnel, creating formations and matchups where they can isolate and create one on ones. So is there similarity in the system? Absolutely. But when you look at the personnel, there’s quite a bit of difference.”
Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel said McSorley reminded him of former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. House says he just sees a quarterback that consistently finds ways to win.
“He prolongs downs. He can throw the ball vertically down the field. He can hurt you with his feet, but more than anything, I think he’s just a winner,” House said.
McSorley knows plenty about Allen, the consensus national defensive player of the year. He says he has to be aware of where he is, especially in passing situations.
“With a guy like him, he’s able to pin his ears back and go for the quarterback. But you definitely do have to have an awareness of a guy like him, not only because of what he can do in the pass rush, but he’s extremely good at getting in and getting strips back and attacking the ball,” the Penn State quarterback said.
“So I think that’s also part of his edge. You’re putting a heightened level on ball security in the pocket when you’re stepping up,not letting the ball get away from you and those types of things. You definitely need to have an awareness of where a guy like him is at at all times.”