A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the Penn State Nittany Lions were Ohio State’s biggest challenger in the Big 10. About 3 weeks later, here I am saying I could not have been more wrong. Penn State has been one of the most successful programs in the last half decade, but they do not look anything like the team of last year. There are a lot of differences between this years team and last, but it is very hard to go from top 10 to unranked in two games and then getting blown out in week 3. Let’s take a look at what is going wrong.
Micah Parsons is an all-american linebacker that decided it was best for him to sit out this season. Now do not get me wrong, he absolutely made the right choice. He is a potential top 10 pick in the NFL draft and he should not jeopardize that. He was the quarterback of the defense and his absence has been duly noted. Overall, the defense has been struggling all season. Usually, Penn State’s defense is their trademark. They pride themselves on having one of the best in the country. This year, howeverm it is a different story. And Parson’s opt out is a big reason for that.
Last season, the Nittany Lions had four running backs that could contribute. However, only one of those four is able to play. They lost Ricky Slade to transfer and both Journey Brown and Noah Cain are out for the season. Devyn Ford is the only one of the four who is on the field. Ford is a good back but he can not carry the load on his own. Cain suffered an injury in the first game of the season against Indiana and Brown will not play a single snap this season.
Clifford put up solid numbers last season as the QB1. However, the redshirt junior has looked like a different player this season. Coming into today’s matchup against Maryland, he has thrown for 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The touchdowns are there but the interceptions numbers are too high for this point in the season. Many fans are already calling for Clifford to be benched and to see what the Lions have in Will Levis or even redshirt freshman Ta’Quan Roberson. Clifford is consistently over throwing his receivers and is throwing to the wrong team too much. I think it might be time to see what you have in the rest of the QB room.
There is a lot wrong with the Penn State Nittany Lions this season. Can you chalk it up to it being a weird year with opt outs? Maybe. But I don’t think having Parsons on the field would do too much with this team right now. If they had Parsons and their full crew on running backs, that might be a different story. The offense looked good against Indiana but is throwing up a stinker against Maryland as I write this. Some people are calling for head coach James Franklin to be fired. It is not that drastic yet. Anyways, Franklin has a contract through 2025 so I do not think he is going anywhere anytime soon. Penn State was poised to be one those teams to make a lot of noise this season, and I fully believed in that. Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
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