Hackeberg ready to throw more after record-breaking opener for Penn State with 454 yards

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STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania — It took Christian Hackenberg about three hours to do something in Penn State's season-opener that no Nittany Lion quarterback had done in the program's previous 128 years.

And if throwing for more than 400 yards becomes necessary to win, Penn State's sophomore star is up for trying.

Hackenberg completed 32 of 47 passes for a team-record 454 yards and became the first Nittany Lion quarterback to exceed 400 in one game while leading Penn State to a 26-24 victory over Central Florida in Ireland last week. Hackenberg capped his game by leading an eight-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal by Sam Ficken.

Hackenberg knows he might be asked to do it all again because of the way football is evolving.

"It goes back to doing whatever it takes for us to win football games, whether it's handing the ball off 40 times or throwing the ball 40 times," Hackenberg said. "That's really a key because you never really know how a game is going to go in terms of what's working and what's not working and what you need to do to move the ball on offense to be successful."

Hackenberg led Penn State to a 7-5 season in 2013 by throwing for 20 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

He told reporters Wednesday that because players are getting faster and stronger, it's no longer possible to rely on a running back to take 30 to 40 carries per game.

"The pro-style offense will always be alive throughout football at any level," Hackenberg said.

"The development of passing, the development of protection and the development of concepts is always changing and always getting better," he said. "I think it's just part of the evolution of the game."

Hackenberg's has shown comfort both with deep passes and dump-offs while rolling out. Penn State enjoyed success passing on first down, but despite the short-yardage running situations that created, the Lions ran for only 57 yards against UCF.

First-year Penn State coach James Franklin said this week that while a balanced offense is the goal, balanced rushing/passing numbers are not.

"I think more than anything in that first game, we did what we were going to be able to do to be successful," Franklin said. "We were having more success throwing the ball, so we are going to continue to do that."

And Hackenberg will be the face of the offense, continuing with the Lions' home opener Saturday against Akron.

"I'll just continue to try to be best player I can be for my team and my teammates and make sure I maintain a level of play and keep it as consistent as I can," he said. "Just be a reliable guy for our offense and for our football team."

NOTES: Penn State announced on Wednesday that an Oct. 3 home game against Army completes the 2015 schedule. Penn State will play Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State and Army along with an eight-game Big Ten Conference schedule.

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