Penn State doesn’t have a lot of film to work with in game-planning for Pitt quarterback Max Browne.
The current Panther and former Southern California signal-caller has just four starts under his belt: a watered-down season opener against Youngstown State last week and three mediocre performances for the Trojans.
Still, the Nittany Lions aren’t thrown off by his lack of tape — and they’re certainly not looking past the possibility that he breaks out in Beaver Stadium.
“That’s a guy who started at USC,” Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda said on a Wednesday conference call. “We’re definitely not taking him lightly.”
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Browne became USC’s starter for a reason. He was a five-star recruit in 2013, just ahead of Christian Hackenberg in Rivals’ rankings.
But Browne’s hype and high school ability never translated. He didn’t start until his redshirt junior season — and when he did, it wasn’t pretty. Browne recorded 474 passing yards, two touchdowns (both against Utah State) and two interceptions in USC’s first three games last year.
After a 1-2 start, including a 52-3 blowout loss to Alabama, Browne was replaced by Sam Darnold. Everyone knows how that story finished.
Now, Browne is at Pitt, where he won the starting job and completed 17 of 24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers’ season-opening win.
“I think he’s still learning the offense a little bit, getting that transition with a new offensive coordinator and everything,” Penn State cornerback Grant Haley said. “But each game he’s going to keep progressing. This week he should be more comfortable, and it’s an important game. The best players show up in the best games.”
If Browne does show up in a big way, Penn State’s hoping its prep holds up.