Penn State Football Season in Review
Host Matt Noah along with Logan Bourandas, Jordan Hession and Zach Donaldson recap Penn State's football season and say whether they believe it was a success:
Coming into the 2019 season, many experts said this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Penn State Nittany Lions as new players saw the field for the first time. It’s safe to say that this team played better than expected, finishing with a 10-2 record, a 7-2 Big Ten record and a likely trip to a New Years Six bowl game.
It was the third 10-win season in the last four years for James Franklin, the first time that has been accomplished since 1993-96. Coach Franklin has a lot to be proud of from this season.
The Nittany Lions started the season 8-0 storming through nonconference play, and starting 5-0 in conference play. Some highlights included a victory over Pittsburgh in the 100th and final scheduled meeting between the in-state rivals, a nighttime victory at Kinnick Stadium, a Whiteout win over Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, and a revenge victory over Michigan State.
Even the Nittany Lions two losses were competitive games, losing in a game that went down to the wire to a very good Minnesota team. Penn State was also the only team to even compete with the Ohio State Buckeyes all season in a 28-17 loss in Columbus.
The Nittany Lion offense showed some growing pains this season with young players, but also showed signs of being very good. Sean Clifford took over at quarterback for Trace McSorley and played very well. He finished with 2,521 yards and 22 touchdown passes, which was tied for third in the Big Ten. He also showed some good running abilities as well.
His two favorite targets were KJ Hamler and tight end Pat Friermuth. Hamler became one of the most explosive players in the country, using his elite speed to burn defensive backs for eight touchdown receptions. Friermuth became one of the best tight ends in the country and even earned the nickname “Mini Gronk” with his seven touchdown catches and great blocking ability.
In a year where Penn State was very deep at the running back position, Journey Brown and Noah Cain became the Nittany Lions featured backs. Brown led the team with 688 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, while Cain showed an ability to be the consistent chain mover that Penn State couldn’t find last year.
The Nittany Lion defense, especially the front-seven, lived up to expectations. The linebacking corps of Cam Brown, Jan Johnson and Micah Parsons was one of the best in the country. Parsons became a national star with 95 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
The “Wild Dogs” defensive line led by Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney and Robert Windsor stuffed opponents run games for most of the season. The trio of Gross-Matos, Toney and Windsor combined for 18.5 sacks on a defensive line that is deep and showed a lot of young talent.
John Reid, Tariq Castro-Fields and JUCO transfer Jaquan Brisker all had two interceptions for a secondary that showed a little bit of growing pains at times during the season. Lamont Wade became one of the best safeties in the Big Ten finishing with 64 tackles.
One of the reasons for the secondary’s growing pains was that three freshman all saw significant playing time this season. Keaton Ellis, Marquis Wilson and Trent Gordon are talented but still raw and the experience will only benefit the Nittany Lions in the future.
Special teams in 2019 might have been the most improved area on the team. Blake Gillikin was one of the best punters in the nation, constantly pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The kicking game between Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout was nearly perfect; Stout also completely took away the opposing teams return game on kickoffs.
The season is not over as the Nittany Lions will have a pretty good bowl game to prepare for, but as James Franklin and the coaching staff look over what they accomplished this season, they will be very proud and optimistic about the future.
Kevin McConlogue is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email email@example.com.
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Matt Noah is a freshman based 6 hours away, 30 minutes outside of Boston in Framingham, MA. He is a Boston sports fan but can keep a conversation in any sport thanks to his passion. Big fantasy football enthusiast. Planning to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism.
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