STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept. 3.
Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.
''We're excited what he brings to our offense,'' Franklin said Wednesday. ''I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much.''
McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.
''It's a lot of weight off my shoulders,'' McSorley said. ''Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other.''
Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.
His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.
Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.
Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
''I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy,'' linebacker Jason Cabinda said. ''He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about.''