GLENDALE, Ariz. — James Franklin said he can't imagine a better college quarterback than Trace McSorley when it comes to decision making, leadership and toughness.
McSorley, who was named the offensive player of the game, dominated in No. 9 Penn State's 35-28 win over 11th-ranked Washington in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday.
Players such as DaeSean Hamilton also benefited from the quarterback's success.
"Trace was slinging it today, hitting any receiver," Hamilton said.
The redshirt junior was 12 for 12 when passing on third-down situations, which marks the second-best in Fiesta Bowl history. McSorley completed 34 of 41 pass attempts and threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 12 times for 60 yards, compared to Washington quarterback Jake Browning, who rushed six times for minus-15 yards.
But it wasn't a perfect game for the McSorley. He threw two interceptions, making it an uncomfortably close game in the fourth quarter.
However, Franklin said the Nittany Lions' success on third down allowed them to overcome the turnovers.
"If we didn't turn the ball over today, I think it would be a much different game," the coach said.
McSorley, who will be a fifth-year senior if he returns for his final year of eligibility, found comfort in the victory after ending the last two seasons with losses.
"This offseason, we go in with a win, feeling good about it and being able to build off that," the quarterback said.
Wide receiver Juwan Johnson has confidence in McSorley heading into next season, when Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, will likely be a key player in Penn State's offense.
"He was awesome, to be honest," Johnson said. "Doing what he did on third down, being confident, being conservative, being smart with the ball is just something we need out of our quarterback all the time. When he plays like that, we always win the game."