Christian Hackenberg and Justin Holman Put on a Show in Ireland


Penn State and UCF were slow to start offensively in Ireland, but the second half proved worth the wait. Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg was as good as advertised in the Nittany Lions’ 26-24 win, coming in from an offseason of hype.

He set a Penn State record with 454 yards passing, showing off chemistry with a talent trio of targets: wide receivers Desean Hamilton and Eugene Lewis, and tight end Jesse James.

His engineering of the Nittany Lions’ game-winning drive is an early entry into the already growing Christian Hackenberg legend.

He completed four passes on that final possession, but an eight-yard scramble on 4th down and three is the play most indicative of the savvy that far exceeds Hackenberg’s second-year status.

As his college career continues, Hackenberg will have NFL scouts salivating. Expect a lot more Andrew Luck comparisons.

The 2012 NFL draft was all about “Suck for Luck.” It’s not too early to start the “Slackenberg for Hackenberg” campaign for 2016.

However, without that fourth-down scramble, Christian Hackenberg would have had his spotlight stolen by UCF quarterback Justin Holman.

Hackenberg’s record-setting day was anticipated; Holman’s outstanding showing? Not so much.

Holman was not even the Knights’ starter Saturday, but his excellent second half likely ensures the job is his for the foreseeable future.

Based exclusively on their respective performances, it’s rather remarkable that Pete DiNovo beat Holman out for the starting job. DiNovo went 3-of-8 for 18 yards, and all Holman did was break out his best Kenny Hill impression.

Like the Texas A&M quarterback, Holman’s debut immediately followed that of a program legend, albeit belatedly.

And, like Hill Thursday night following Johnny Manziel, Justin Holman’s performance should inspire confidence that the Knights will be just fine without Blake Bortles.

Not to suggest Holman’s effort was exactly reminiscent of Bortles-rather, Holman showed off a rocket arm that looked quite a bit like another former UCF quarterback, Daunte Culpepper.

The way Holman rather effortlessly flung passes of more than 40 yards will lead to plenty of highlight-reel moments in his burgeoning career-much like the below:

Holman’s UCF tenure may not have started with fanfare, but it’s worth noting Blake Bortles’ time as a Knight began with him following Jeff Godfrey on the depth chart.