As year two of the Jeff Cook regime gets underway, Penn State will face a steep task in its first matchup when it takes on No. 5 Stanford at home on Friday night.
While the Nittany Lions look to start their season on the right foot against the Pac-12’s powerhouse, the team will have quite a different look than last year as scoring threats Jeremy Rafanello and Ethan Beckford moved on to professional opportunities.
It may be up for debate as to where the offensive firepower will come from this year, but Cook does not seemed to be fazed — rather he sees it as a new opportunity.
“I believe that the team collectively can be a threat,” Cook said. “In some ways it may be harder for other teams to identify where the scoring threat may come from… there are a lot of ways we can get goals.”
Newly elected captains Aaron Molloy and Pierre Reedy will surely be in the offensive mix this Friday and beyond.
Reedy, a redshirt junior, will be playing in his first game under Cook after missing the last two seasons due to injury.
“I feel really good right now and am just excited for the season to start,” Reedy said
There is no doubt that there will be a fire under the Kutztown native in 2019, and with his competitive nature he will be looking to show his team that he is ready to make an impact right away.
To fill out the roster, Penn State has a very solid freshman class coming in that could bolster the depth and energy of the team throughout the season.
But Cook made it clear that after some unlucky losses last season he is “going to put the 11 players on the field that we feel give us the best chance to win that game.”
“[Players’ tenures] will not be a part of our calculations,” Cook added.
No matter what personnel is on the field on Friday, this will be a difficult first opponent for the Nittany Lions, as the Cardinal are coming off of a tremendous five-year conference championship streak which also includes three national championships.
But with the combination of youth and experience, Penn State will have its eyes focused on an early season upset and one that could propel the program to new heights.