Penn State Football Season in Review

Story posted December 4, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Kevin McConlogue

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

About the Contributors

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Kevin McConlogue

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Kevin is a Senior from Scranton, PA. He is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. During his time with CommRadio he has written articles and been a part of podcasts for many of Penn State’s sports teams. He has also been a beat writer and done Play by Play. In the future he hopes to do play by play for national television or radio or have his own sports talk show. To contact him email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Matt Noah's photo

Matt Noah

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

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.

Jordan Hession's photo

Jordan Hession

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Jordan Hession is a junior from Annapolis, Maryland majoring in broadcast journalism. Jordan is the co-host of CommRadio’s longest running live radio show The Sin Bin with Kyle Cannillo. In the summer of 2020, Jordan interned at SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio as a sports programmer. When Jordan is not discussing sports, he is writing various articles for collegiate and professional sports leagues and teams. Jordan has a love for all sports but has a genuine passion to spread ice hockey and baseball globally. Away from broadcast journalism, Jordan enjoys lifting weights and cooking. Jordan’s role models in the broadcast journalism industry include Doc Emrick, Gary Thorne and Mike Lange. In the future, Jordan sees himself working as a producer or host in sports talk radio and potentially television. To contact Jordan, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Logan Bourandas

Third-Year / Broadcast Journalism

Logan Bourandas is a third-year broadcast journalism major from Long Island, NY. He is a the news director for CommRadio and the host of Ducks on the Pond, which is an all-baseball talk show on CommRadio. He is also a sports writer, broadcaster and podcaster for CommRadio. He got his start as the station manager for his high school radio station WPOB in his hometown of Plainview, NY, where he hosted numerous radio shows and was involved in sports broadcasts. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).