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‘Uncharacteristic’ Turnovers, Penalties Cost Penn State In Nail-Biter Loss

A lot of things went wrong for Penn State football during Saturday’s loss to Indiana, but turnovers and penalties proved to be the end-all for the Nittany Lions.

“It’s turnovers and penalties… that’s very uncharacteristic for us. We gotta get those things fixed,” James Franklin said after the game. “Guys playing for the first time, that factored in a little bit. But no, our practice shell hasn’t changed. We work those things every single day.”

Penn State committed 10 accepted penalties, good for a total of 100 yards Saturday. Indiana, on the other hand, only had four penalties accepted against them for 36 yards.

One of the most damaging penalties for the Nittany Lions was committed by Jesse Luketa, who was ejected for targeting in the fourth quarter and will miss the first half of the Ohio State game as well. Instead of what would’ve been a Penn State fumble recovery, Luketa’s foul moved the Hoosiers from their own 42 to Penn State’s 26. Indiana knocked down a field goal later that drive.

An offside foul from Shaka Toney and a personal foul on Adisa Issac cost the Nittany Lions 20 yards defensively on Indiana’s final drive, too. The Hoosiers went on to punch in a touchdown with 22 seconds left and then tie the game with an ensuing two-point conversion.

Losing the turnover battle cost Penn State big time, as well. Two came from Sean Clifford interceptions and the other from a red zone fumble by Will Levis. Team captain Pat Freiermuth commented on these mistakes after the game.

“I don’t think our attention to detail was great, including myself. We started fast but we gotta continue that mentality,” Freiermuth said. “You can’t win the game by doing that. We put ourselves in a good position at the end of the game, but we can’t turn the ball over that many times and expect to win.”

Freiermuth, who scored the games first touchdown, realizes the Nittany Lions failed to keep that momentum mostly due to the turnovers. He finished with a solid seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown on the night.

Quarterback Sean Clifford took full responsibility for both of his interceptions, which he obviously hopes to clean up going into the Nittany Lions’ biggest game of the season next week.

“The first one was just a screen, typical screen. Wasn’t the exact look I thought I’d get, but at the same time it was a stupid play and I shouldn’t have forced it,” Clifford said. “The second one was just an overthrow, I just missed my target. You just can’t do that in big games.”

Although Clifford knows he cost the team with his turnovers, he says he overall felt good and comfortable throughout the game.

“I felt comfortable throughout the whole game, it was just the lack of focus on one or two plays,” Clifford said. “I felt good, but at the same time you can’t make those errors, especially when the turnover battle is so important…we talk about the ball, and I was careless with the ball on two plays.”

Levis’ turnover was also very costly for the Nittany Lions. Penn State had the ball on Indiana’s 7-yard line late in the first half, ready to switch the momentum. Levis entered the game for a designed quarterback draw, but coughed the ball up only for the Hoosiers to recover. Clifford talked about this after the game Saturday, too.

“Will’s as prepared as I was, that’s how it is in our room,” Clifford said. “There’s no lack of preparation there, we just gotta get better. Better operationally, and make sure we’re up to our fullest potential on each play.

Franklin and the Nittany Lions will try to correct these errors by the time they play No. 5 Ohio State on Halloween. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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