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James Franklin Expects Sean Clifford To Be ‘100%’ For 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic

Penn State football head coach James Franklin said he anticipates starting quarterback Sean Clifford to be “100%” healthy for the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic.

“We expect Sean to be 100%,” Franklin said on Friday. “He’s not full[y participating in practice] right now. He’s taking most of the reps, but he’s not 100% right now.”

The head coach said that his quarterback is healthier now than he was at the end of the regular season. As expected, Clifford is listed on top of Penn State’s quarterback depth chart for this year’s Cotton Bowl Classic.

The redshirt sophomore was initially banged up towards the end of Penn State’s road defeat against Minnesota, but he was back in the starting lineup for the team’s next game against Indiana after returning for his final series of that game. Clifford didn’t return after suffering a lower-body injury in the third quarter of his team’s loss to Ohio State in Columbus.

Redshirt freshman Will Levis assumed starting duties at quarterback for the Nittany Lions’ regular season finale against Rutgers at Beaver Stadium, and he led Penn State to a 27-6 victory over the Scarlet Knights. Levis filled in admirably at Ohio State by leading his team to 17 unanswered points against a staunch Buckeye defense that had shut down Penn State’s offense prior to Clifford’s injury.

In his first season as Penn State’s starting quarterback, Clifford posted a 9-2 record and some fairly solid numbers. He completed 178 of his 299 pass attempts (59.5%) for 2,521 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth were on the receiving end of more than half of Clifford’s completions and 15 of his 22 touchdown passes, so spreading the ball around was a bit of an issue for the first-year starting quarterback. However, Clifford did a good job of taking care of the ball for the most part, and he also added 374 yards and five touchdowns on the ground for the Nittany Lions.

No. 10 Penn State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) will take on No. 17 Memphis (12-1, 7-1 AAC) at noon on Saturday, December 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

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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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