June 11, 2018 10:24:06 AM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 82 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: Since MSU has a prominent tight end wearing No. 82, Farrod Green, let's take today's post to nerd out about tight end play in the Moorhead system.
Tight ends don't have to do much research to love the Moorhead offense. I found a video of Penn State's top tight end from last year, Mike Gesecki, at a Rose Bowl media event from the 2016 season when someone asked him about Moorhead: He said he liked the hire when he searched Moorhead's last Fordham offense and noticed a tight end led the team in receiving.
Two years later, Farrod Green celebrated Moorhead's move to MSU by tweeting a screen cap of Gesecki's stats at Penn State: 57 catches for 563 yards and nine touchdowns, the 57 catches and nine touchdowns leading the team and tying for the team lead, respectively.
The players like the numbers, that much is clear, but fans of inside football are going to like tight end usage patterns in Moorhead's system. Long story short, I think of tight ends in this system as the agents of chaos.
In the run game, those tight ends are used in the same way most college spread offenses use tight ends. They are the ones that cross the formation in split zone concepts, they are the ones tasked with crucial seal blocks on the edge in certain schemes, other times as a lead blocker -- really, any called run is going to give the tight end a serious responsibility.
The pass game is where things get interesting. Tight ends are going to do some of the usual tight end things, the short game stuff, but Moorhead gets creative. I've seen tight ends peel off into the flat as part of a RPO. Think about it: you're an outside linebacker, you see the quarterback charging your way so you go to meet him, just for him to pop it out to a tight end in the flat with no one within 15 yards of him. Devastating.
As with any other aspect of the Moorhead offense, there is the deep element. Gesecki had 23 catches go for 10 or more yards last season and six go for 20 or more, thus showing that Moorhead is not afraid to release a tight end vertically when the matchup and situation is right. He even showed this in the spring game: Justin Johnson had an 18-yard catch.
One more thing we can know for certain: tight ends are going to be there, and they're going to be there a lot. Tight ends were there every step of the way at Fordham, Penn State and even some stops early in his career, such as Akron. He's given us no reason to believe anything will be different: he followed through by signing two tight ends in the 2018 singing class, changed the listing of a wide receiver in the class to a tight end and used a tight end in every single play of the Maroon & White Game.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson