The offense designed by Joe Moorhead deserved a lot of credit for Penn State's success last season when the Nittany Lions established program records in total offense and passing yardage, and tied the school mark for points scored, during their Big Ten championship year.
But Moorhead, who like the rest of the Penn State coaching staff is very active on Twitter, has seen his share of criticism of his offense on social media. At Saturday's media day at Beaver Stadium, he decided that, in response to a simple question about the next step in the evolution of quarterback Trace McSorley, he would address the skeptics about what he called a "gross mischaracterization" of the offense.
"This thought process … is that Trace just drops back and picks the deepest receiver and chucks the ball up and hopes the guy makes the play," said Moorhead, the team's offensive coordinator. "That's, in a lot of ways, ridiculous at best and, quite frankly, asinine at worst.
"A kid couldn't lead the league in multiple passing categories and set school single season records and be on the verge of multiple other school records if he was just throwing the ball indiscriminately down the field. In a lot of ways, I feel that minimizes the role of the people who game-plan the plays, the person who calls them, and the player who executes them."
As a redshirt sophomore last season, McSorley set Penn State single-season records for total offense (3,979 yards), passing yards (3,614) and touchdown throws (29). He had five 300-yard passing games and 64 completions of 20 or more yards, with 20 of those going for TDs.
McSorley had success with the deep ball, throwing to targets such as 6-foot-3 wide receiver Chris Godwin and 6-6 tight end Mike Gesicki, both of whom grabbed their share of 50-50 balls.
Ah, but that's another term Moorhead doesn't go for.
"You hear people say, 'Well, are you guys going to be able to consistently live on the 50-50 ball down the field?'" he said. "That's not what we do. Our offense is designed to stretch defenses horizontally and vertically and create mismatches by a number of personnel. So the things that we did throwing the ball down the field, they didn't happen by chance, they happened by choice."