UNIVERSITY PARK — Kyle Carters imagination ran wild this past spring as soon as he learned how Bill OBrien planned to incorporate tight ends into Penn States new-look offense.
On Saturday against an overmatched Temple Owls defense, Carter ran wild employing OBriens schemes.
Carter caught five passes for 70 yards, contributing heavily to a Penn State passing attack that produced 318 yards and a touchdown in the 24-13 win at Beaver Stadium.
I didnt know it was going to be like this, Carter said. I just knew that if I did what I had to do, hed get the ball in my hands and I just had to make the plays myself. Its great for me right now.
Last season Carter redshirted as a freshman. This season, hes been a key cog for an offense that has consistently relied on its biggest skill-position players to contribute each week. With another big game against the Owls, Carter increased his season totals to 16 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown.
Penn States tight ends combined for just 15 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown all of last season.
None of Carters catches on Saturday were better than the one he made late in the first half to set Penn State up with first-and-goal at the Temple one-yard line.
He picked up 13 yards on his third catch of the game to give Penn State a first down at Temples 22-yard line. On the next play Carter, who did most of his damage over the middle on intermediate crossing patterns, slipped behind the Temple linebackers.
Wide open, Carter hauled in a Matt McGloin pass and nearly dragged Temples Ahkeem Smith into the end zone before going down as Justin Gildea hammered him with a late hit. The Owls picked up a personal foul for Gildeas helmet-to-helmet hit on Carter who said it was the hardest hes ever been hit.
That was a big part of the game, OBrien said.
A play later, McGloin plunged into the end zone to give Penn State a 14-3 lead to cap the first-half.
Having good, big, strong athletes at tight end that can run well is such a tough matchup for any defense, McGloin said. Guys like (Matt) Lehman and Kyle Carter run extremely well. So thats so tough for defenses to defend and Im lucky enough to have them in this offense and on Saturdays.
Lehman added two caches for 46 yards on the afternoon. Garry Gilliam added a catch for six yards. Both Lehman and Carter served as viable targets for McGloin when the Penn State offense needed a quick strike from midfield.
McGloin went to Lehman once in the third, hooking up with the 6-foot-6 tight end for 22 yards to get Penn State down to the Temple nine-yard line. The quarterback hit Carter twice in the second quarter to set the Penn State offense up in separate first-and-goal situations.
Temple defensive backs had trouble tracking Carter and his cohorts for much of the afternoon.
Although he described himself as a traditional tight end, Carter lined up in multiple formations uncommon to the position on Saturday. He ran routes out of the slot and split out like a wide receiver in addition to lining up tight with the offensive tackles.
The tight ends that we have here, we can all catch and we can all block, Carter said. We are all great receivers so having us there, and we bring about four or five tight ends instead of about three, as usual. We are a big part of this team.
On the second play of the game, newly converted tight end Paul Jones lined up as a running back and took a handoff up the middle. Although Jones was stuffed in the backfield by a blitzing Hershey Walton, the play gained attention among Penn State players for a vicious block thrown by tight end Gilliam.
Gilliam lined up split wide to the left. On the snap, he pivoted and ran toward the middle of the field where he demolished a Temple linebacker at the snap. Gilliams crack-back block was designed to spring Jones free outside to the left and it was developed by OBrien originally for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to throw similar blocks.
Carter said he heard the hit from the sideline. Linebacker Mike Mauti said the entire defense stood up waiting for it, as they knew it was coming after practicing the play all week.
I love that stuff, man, linebacker Glenn Carson said. I love a guy whos big and physical and is willing to throw his body into another guy for the team. It really doesnt get any better than that for me.