As good as the Penn State offense has been with short and intermediate passing this season, the big plays have been few and far between. The Nittany Lions have yet to put a 50-yard pass play in the books and have just five pass plays of 40 yards or more through eight games.
Penn State sophomore Allen Robinson leads the Big Ten with 52 catches and is 26th in the nation in receptions per game.
On the one hand, sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson is OK with that.
"We've taken a few shots downfield. We might not be able to connect on some of them how we like to," Robinson said Wednesday. "Our offense is kind of a short passing game. We do take shots but that's nothing we're really concerned about."
On the other, Robinson wants to do a better job of capitalizing on those chances when Penn State takes them.
"It's something I've been working on throughout the year -- doing different technical things, down the field route runnings," he said. "Trying to make a few more plays down the field."
Robinson leads the Big Ten with 52 catches (and is just 11 off the school single-season record with four games to play) and is second to Wisconsin's James Abbrederis in receiving yardage. However, he averages just 12.1 yards per catch, the ninth-best average among the top 10 yardage leaders in the conference.
Robinson has three of his team's five 40-plus receptions this season, including a pair of 45-yarders against Navy, but the plays where he and Matt McGloin have been unable to hook up -- including a long throw early in last week's loss to Ohio State -- have been just as memorable.
The Buckeyes allowed 327 yards through the air and a pair of late touchdown passes but were able to keep the Nittany Lions from getting any rhythm early in the contest.
"They threw us off a little bit on our timing," said Robinson, who finished with 68 yards on five catches. "I don't think that was the biggest thing that hurt us that game. We had a lot of penalties when we were getting our drives going. I don't think it was about the timing. It was a lack of focus on our part."
Robinson and McGloin spent a lot of extra time throwing this summer, including deep routes. McGloin said Wednesday that one of the keys is getting air under the ball. Flatter passes have a better chance of getting picked, he added.
"The one key thing is getting the ball out on time," McGloin said. "The longer you hold the ball, the less air gets put under it. You take your drop, be in rhythm, trust that he's open, put a nice ball with some air on it, let him run under it. It's all about timing and landmarks."