EDITORIAL: Penn State Players Who Need to Step Up
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After beginning the season as the eighth-ranked team in the country, the Penn State Nittany Lions dropped their first two games and have fallen out of the AP Top 25. If Penn State wants to get back on track, multiple players need to step up.
After a decent 2019 campaign, starting quarterback Sean Clifford was expected to make a jump this season. However, things have not gone as planned so far.
Through two games, Clifford has thrown six touchdowns and three interceptions and has been more effective as a runner than as a passer. He’s been inaccurate on a handful of passes and his decision-making has been subpar.
Considering quarterback is the most important position in football, Clifford must improve his play sooner rather than later, or we might be seeing more of Will Levis in the coming weeks.
With the losses of Journey Brown and Noah Cain, Penn State is thin at the running back position. This leaves Devyn Ford as the starter, as the other two running backs on the roster are true freshmen.
Ford played solid in the season opener against Indiana but didn’t have much of an impact against the Buckeyes. A strong running game is essential in almost any offense, especially when the passing game has been somewhat inconsistent.
Improved play from Ford would take a lot of pressure off Sean Clifford and would help this offense in multiple ways.
The Nittany Lions took a hit at wide receiver when KJ Hamler decided to enter the draft last season. While Pat Freiermuth and Jahan Dotson are off to great starts in 2020, they can’t be relied on to make all the plays in the passing game.
This is where Parker Washington comes in. The true freshman was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and had a great training camp, solidifying his spot as a starter.
Washington is off to a good start, already finding the end zone in overtime against Indiana in the season opener, but he is already penciled in as the No. 2 receiver on the team. With that job, he needs to start making a bigger impact and become a reliable target for Sean Clifford if this offense wants to become more explosive.
Replacing an edge rusher like Yetur Gross-Matos is a tall task for any college football player, but Jayson Oweh was expected to be able to take over that role immediately and make a major impact.
However, he has yet to record a sack through the first two contests of the season. In a conference such as the Big Ten where most teams have high-level passing offenses, Oweh must begin to utilize his freaky athletic ability to get to the quarterback and make big plays for this Penn State defense.
Jakob Schnur is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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