Penn State fans are dreaming big when it comes to freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. In just his second start for the Nittany Lions, and his first in Beaver Stadium, the five-star recruit set a new freshman passing record by passing for 311 yards in Penn State’s 45-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Zack Mills previously held the freshman passing record for Penn State, with 280 yards in two different games in 2001 (Ohio State, Southern Mississippi). Hackenberg passed for one passing touchdown and was intercepted once, but progress is already visible under center.
Hackenberg completed 23 of 33 pass attempts and settled down after getting off to a rocky start in his first home game at Penn State. Hackenberg was throwing passes above his receivers early and he lost a fumble when a ball slipped out of his hand. Eastern Michigan scooped up the football and returned it for a touchdown, the only time the Eagles scored. Bill O’Brien stuck with the freshman though, showing faith that he would settle down if given time. It paid off this weekend.
Hackenberg was replaced by junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson with the game all but decided in the fourth quarter. Penn State improved to 2-0, reversing the outcome of the first two games a season ago. Next week Penn State hosts Blake Bortles and Central Florida.