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What We Learned From Penn State’s Loss To Indiana

Penn State football lost its season opener to Indiana in a 36-35 gut-wrenching overtime defeat.

The game came down to the very end with Indiana converting on a controversial two-point conversion to win. Following a chaotic weekend, here’s what we learned about James Franklin’s new-look team.

Penn State’s Special Teams Needs Work

Penn State’s special teams unit struggled throughout the season opener. After missing just one field goal all of last season, Jake Pinegar missed two in this game alone. He booted a short 25-yard field goal as time expired in the first half that would’ve made it a one-possession game. Additionally, Pinegar missed a 47-yarder in the third quarter that also would’ve made it a one-score game.

The punting and punt return units had their fair share of mistakes as well. In the first quarter, the Nittany Lions nearly coughed the ball up when Jahan Dotson called for a fair catch but muffed the punt after colliding with teammate Marquis Wilson.

Fortunately for Penn State, Indiana’s Micah McFadden was called for illegal touching and the play ultimately didn’t count.

Earlier in the first quarter, Penn State’s Drew Hartlaub committed a 15-yard kick catching interference penalty when he ran into Indiana’s Reese Taylor before he able to catch the ball.

Later in the half, Taylor broke off a 21-yard punt return that set the Hoosiers up with solid field position.

Wide Receivers Will Be Just Fine

Following some key offseason departures, there were enormous questions surrounding Penn State’s wide receivers entering the season. Besides Jahan Dotson, no receiver had more than 12 career receptions under their belt.

Taylor Stubblefield’s wideouts looked just fine during Saturday’s game, including contributions from some young players. True freshman Parker Washington only caught two passes, but one was a big go-ahead touchdown on Penn State’s first overtime possession.

Fellow true freshman KeAndre Lambert-Smith added two receptions for 25 yards in his Penn State debut.

The big performance of the night came from Dotson, who totaled four receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. His score was a 60-yarder late in the fourth quarter that gave the Nittany Lions the lead.

Redshirt sophomore Daniel George added three receptions for 29 yards as well.

Discipline Needs To Be A Major Emphasis

Penn State committed 10 accepted penalties worth a whopping 100 yards against the Hoosiers. Among them was a fourth-quarter targeting penalty on linebacker Jesse Luketa that disqualified him from the game, taking a fumble recovery off the board for the Nittany Lions.

Additionally, Luketa will need to sit out the first half of next week’s game against Ohio State, resulting in a huge blow to Brent Pry’s defense.

On Indiana’s final drive of regulation, Penn State committed two penalties that gave the Hoosiers 20 free yards.

After the game, James Franklin called the penalties “uncharacteristic. Either way, it’s certainly something the Nittany Lions need to clean up moving forward.

Sean Clifford Is A Legit Threat On The Ground

Sean Clifford started out his 2020 campaign with some ups and downs through the air, throwing for three touchdowns and two interceptions. However, it was nothing but positives for the second-year starter on the ground.

Clifford utilized his legs often in this one, totaling 17 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. His score came at the end of the third quarter when he ripped off a 35-yard run.

Clifford totaled 402 rushing yards last season, and he’s already more than a quarter of the way to reaching that mark this season.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, NY and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his rants on all of his teams follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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