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Trace McSorley says he’s not carrying too much of the offensive load for Penn State

The Nittany Lions' fifth-year senior is the Big Ten's top rusher among quarterbacks. Head coach James Franklin says his concern is that McSorley is being asked to do too much.

Quarterback Trace McSorley has been carrying the load for Penn State on offense, having ran the ball at least 18 times over the last four games.
Quarterback Trace McSorley has been carrying the load for Penn State on offense, having ran the ball at least 18 times over the last four games.Read moreDoug McSchooler / AP Photo

Penn State's Trace McSorley is the top rushing quarterback in the Big Ten, ranking eighth overall with 79.1 yards per game and 554 yards on the season. His 98 carries are the most by any quarterback in the conference and he has run the ball an average of 18 times over the last four games.

If you think he is being counted on too much to carry the offense for the Nittany Lions, who welcome Iowa to Beaver Stadium on Saturday, you may be in agreement with head coach James Franklin.

"I think, in general, my concern right now is Trace is carrying too much of the load on offense," Franklin said Tuesday at his weekly teleconference. "That's something that we need to do a better job of. We need more players having a bigger impact on the game on offense."

Franklin mentioned running back Miles Sanders as "starting to take a step" toward having an impact. Sanders accounted for 126 yards from scrimmage — 72 rushing in 15 carries, 54 receiving on a career-high six catches — in Saturday's 33-28 win over Indiana.

"I thought last week was his best game," Franklin said. "I think that's probably my biggest concern with everything. We need to spread some of those big plays and some of those runs and some of those catches, and just overall offensive production needs to be spread out a little bit."

McSorley, a fifth-year senior, posted his second 100-yard rushing game of the season last week with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 21st in FBS with 287.9 yards of total offense per game.

As for carrying too much of the load, McSorley says bring it on.

"It's kind of the same thing I said after the game; I want to do whatever I need to do to help our team win," he said, "if that's carrying the ball however many times, throwing it, whatever it might be.

"To me, I really haven't felt like there's been a big burden or felt like I'm shouldering too much of the load or whatever Coach was saying. But as far as kind of how we're going to continue, I'm going to have the same mind-set, just moving on to do whatever the coaches ask of me, do whatever is asked of me by the team."

McSorley said opponents have tried to take away Sanders and some of the run-pass options that the offense runs, and he takes advantage with his feet.

"A lot of teams we've played, especially in the last couple weeks, have played a lot of man coverage," he said. "Coach Franklin and [offensive coordinator Ricky] Rahne talk about when teams play man coverage, they've either got a spy for the quarterback or there's not anyone there for the quarterback.

"We talk about it in our quarterback room — if you see it, step up, go through your progressions. If nothing is there, take off and run because there's usually not anyone left for the quarterback in those situations."

Johnson may play Saturday

Franklin said that Juwan Johnson, the former Glassboro High School star who is the Lions' second-leading receiver with 21 catches and 273 yards, could play Saturday after missing the second half of last week's game with an unspecified injury.

Franklin said Johnson is "pretty confident that he's going to be back" for the Iowa game but that it was too early in the week to know for sure.