Levis Shows Will, Penn State Falls Short
After a rugged first half, the Nittany Lions headed into the locker room down 27-6 and their chances to win were seemingly hopeless.
Sean Clifford started the game at quarterback but struggled and was pulled late in the second quarter following two turnovers. One came on Penn State’s first drive of the game where Clifford threw well behind Jahan Dotson and the pass was picked off. The second came a quarter later where a sack-fumble by Clifford was returned by the Cornhuskers for six.
Nebraska had all of the momentum following the two turnovers, and the hole that Clifford and Penn State dug itself proved too deep to climb out of. The Nittany Lions dropped their contest against Nebraska by a final score of 30-23 and are 0-4 for the first time since 2001.
But in the second half, quarterback Will Levis stepped in under center and Penn State started to show some signs of life. Levis fueled the Nittany Lions comeback with his arm and his legs, although the valiant effort fell short.
Levis totaled 219 yards on 14-31 passing to go along with 18 carries for 61 yards on the ground. He finished with a solid 104.5 quarterback rating.
A quarterback controversy could be brewing in Happy Valley, although head coach James Franklin says that the decision won’t be made right away.
“We're not going to name a starting quarterback right after a game, before discussing it as a staff, watching the tape and all those types of things,” Franklin said.
Although, he liked what he saw from the sophomore quarterback.
“[Levis] went in and gave us a spark. He made plays in the passing game and I thought he did a good job managing the game overall,” Franklin said. “It gives us something to build on, there's no doubt about it.”
Levis showed will (pun intended) and fight, and the team responded.
“[The second half felt different to me] energy wise. That's one thing that we need to continue to work on in the future is just starting fast. It’s something that we've emphasized in the last few weeks that just hasn't come together for us,” Levis said.
“You really create your own energy by how you play on the field and generating plays and generating points. That's where the energy comes from,” Levis said.
The turnovers hindered the team’s energy early, but Levis came in, played a clean game and almost engineered a comeback. But two empty red zone possessions to cap off the game sealed Penn State’s fate.
That was pretty much the story of the game for the Nittany Lions. A slow start, turnovers and inefficiency in the red zone was too much for Levis to overcome.
Based off of the product that has been seen from both Clifford and Levis, one has to think that Levis will get the nod moving forward. At least for the Nittany Lions’ upcoming showdown against Iowa.
Regardless, Levis trusts that the right decision will be made.
“I'm completely confident in my abilities and have been for the last couple of seasons. But it's not my choice, it's not my call,” Levis said.
“I put my trust in the coaches, and I'm always going to be willing to do whatever's best for the team. I'm just going to approach every practice, every day the same way I've been doing it, and hopefully good things are coming to this team in terms of getting some numbers in that win column.”
Zach Donaldson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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