New-Look Penn State Offense Uses Increased Tempo To Trounce Idaho

Penn State football’s offense couldn’t have asked for a better start to its 2019 season. The Nittany Lions spanked Idaho by a final score of 79-7 in no small part thanks to their shiny, new-look offense and its up-tempo pace of play.

James Franklin’s team held a 20-0 advantage after 15 minutes of play, and it entered halftime leading 44-0. In the first half, starting quarterback Sean Clifford led his unit to what seemed like countless touchdowns by utilizing the no-huddle offense.

Clifford definitely helped the offense make good on a promise he made over the summer. At Lift for Life, the redshirt sophomore said Penn State’s offense was poised to be “one of the quickest, fastest offenses that you’ve seen in a long time.”

Sean Clifford finished Saturday’s contest — his first start as a Nittany Lion — 14-for-23 with 280 passing yards, 57 rushing yards, and two passing touchdowns.

The team has obviously played just one game, but it definitely passed the eye test against Idaho on Saturday. Clifford overcame some early jitters to put together a truly dominant performance and engineer some of the most efficient, rapid touchdown drives in scoring history. None of Penn State’s five first-half drives that led to touchdowns took longer than two minutes.

The fourth touchdown drive in particular stands out. It took the Nittany Lions 79 seconds to move the ball 76 yards on four plays towards the end of the first half, and the drive ended with a beautiful 21-yard pass from Clifford to Hamler in the back corner of the end zone.

“We’ve been running fast tempo from the start of camp — just to get us in shape and moving around,” Hamler said. “It gets defenses off their groove. I think bringing that to the game made things way more easier. You get gassed sometimes, but you have to suck it up and take it on the chin.”

Journey Brown scored Penn State’s first touchdown of the 2019 season, and he added a second score to open the third quarter.

With the talent that Penn State has to work with on offense, why wouldn’t the offense try to run as quickly and efficiently as it did Saturday? Hamler found himself wide open on both of his touchdown passes because he’s just faster than the guys who were guarding him, and his fellow starting wideouts add very different dynamics to the offense. Beyond the starting trio, 10 players — including two running backs — made at least one reception on Saturday.

Five different running backs found the end zone on Saturday, and two of them — Journey Brown and Devyn Ford — scored twice. Penn State’s ability to get so many different players involved limits fatigue for those who play the most, which, in turn, allows it to run such a fast-paced offense.

“We were moving today,” starting center Michal Menet said. “Tempo helped us out a lot. It’s something we’ve been working on all camp. The defense was getting kind of tired, but we were fine. We were just rolling — I think that was just a huge weapon for us.”

According to Menet, the secret to perfecting Penn State’s offensive tempo isn’t all that complicated. He said the unit would run plays quickly and get up to the ball as fast as possible throughout the month-long camp leading up to Saturday’s game.

Clifford hasn’t watched the tape back from Saturday’s game yet, and he said there may have been some minor intangible, fundamental aspects of the offense that still needs improvement. Overall, however, he has no complaints about Saturday’s effort.

“When you score 79 points in a game, that’s not a bad day,” Clifford said.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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