Trace McSorley. Here’s the fun thing—and that’s a sentence we can type after saying the name “Trace McSorley,” which is a pretty fun thing in itself because Trace McSorley is pretty fun, and the thing we are talking about is more fun than just Trace McSorley alone. That’s an insane amount of fun we’re about to break down, if your idea of fun is naked offensive aggression. (If it’s not, you are a weird, weird human, and we do not know you or want to know you.)
Penn State has Saquon Barkley out of the backfield. Saquon Barkley can cut so hard a linebacker or safety ends up delivering a punishing hit to where he thought Saquon Barkley would be—usually while Barkley is five yards upfield and running away laughing at the safety, his family, and his ancestors.
He’s effectively a play-action threat not just for his assigned man, but for every other defender on the field. That’s a real difference from a normal theoretical play-action threat at the college level, where some offensive players attract two or three sets of eyes, and others can be so much dramatically better at athlete-ing they can drag entire defenses along with a fake. (Plz see our favorite examples of this ever: Mike Vick on any option fake/give ever at VT, or Tim Tebow at Florida on those one-man play-fakes out of an empty set.)
There’s that very fun thing to play with all by itself. Then there is the person playing with those parts: Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, a crazily aggressive coach who says things like “Our first read is the deep ball” so often it becomes physically arousing to bystanders. (Us. We mean “us” when we say “bystanders.”) Moorhead’s offense came from Fordham at the FCS level, where you really should get all your offensive coordinators because
a.) They have nothing to lose, and do whatever they want a lot of the time
b.) Are highly motivated to get out of FCS and rip some faces off
c.) Teach offenses that are successful no matter the level of athlete playing in them
d.) They’re cheap, for a while
e.) Faces, ripped-off
Moorhead’s offense is relatively simple, rabies-level aggressive, and teaches concepts, not plays, presented in a clean, easy-to-understand framework. That means everyone can work quickly, quick work makes for efficient work, and quick and efficient work makes for slow, wasteful defenses handing out 17 yards per play in the third quarter of an eventual dominant victory for your team.
There’s all that before you get to Trace McSorley, a quarterback best evaluated by the guiding principle of: “It’s not always advisable, but it is always endorsed.”
McSorley is the best current leading candidate for the title of Rex Grossman/Brett Favre/Chad Kelly Gunslinger-y High-Yield/High Risk Quarterback Of Yore. He will throw to the endzone sprinting towards the sidelines with a DB between him and the receiver, and a defensive end or two on his tail. McSorley will do the sadistic and perfect thing by throwing to a receiver until the defense either finally finds a way to defend said receiver, or opts instead to let him catch the ball, and then tackle the unguardable receiver on the way down while weeping softly.
Trace McSorley will do that and—to this point—do it with remarkable efficiency. His TD/INT ratio last year was 29/8, and during Penn State’s eight-game win streak McSorley only threw two INTs. Both of those came against Indiana, because football has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to error distribution, and also happens to hate Indiana for some reason. Look, you got two interceptions off the hottest quarterback in the conference! Gonna be hilarious to see how you won’t do anything at all that will matter in the end with them! Three of those interceptions came against USC, with the game-killer coming as McSorley tried to force the ball into Chris Godwin’s hands—which, given how well Godwin had played in that game, falls under the category of “Fundamentally Good Bad Ideas to Have.”
Throw in the baseball swing TD celebrations, the fearlessness, and the 9.3 yards per attempt average, and Trace McSorley is obviously a monthly subscriber to both the Deep Ball lifestyle podcast and to the premium subscription-only content offered by the Deep Ball Creative Collective. He’s also the son of a quarterback named “Trace”. This is an asset in two ways: he not only passes the universal quarterback test of his name working both backwards and forwards, but also has the added strength of being named after NFL defensive end Trace Armstrong.*
*”McSorley Trace” was a street in your subdivision, and also the starting quarterback for the 1987 Oregon State Beavers.
The only real qualifier we can add is that the loss of wide receiver Chris Godwin, McSorley’s biggest target last year, has to show up somewhere. That’s being somewhat cautious, something Trace McSorley probably won’t be in the attempt to put the ball down the field, and into the hands of a waiting receiver.
It’s the only wrinkle in an otherwise flawless presentation, though. Trace McSorley, Penn State quarterback, on the question of “How deep is your ball?” you receive four Spurrier heads out of five for your preseason 2017 rating.