Breaking Down Post-Indiana Reactions For Penn State Football
There’s been no shortage of hot takes and thoughts in the days following No. 18 Penn State football’s brutal loss to No. 17 Indiana.
While a lot may have been revealed about this Nittany Lion squad after Saturday’s contest, it’s way too early to fully count this team out for the rest of the 2020 season.
With that in mind, a couple of our football writers and staffers decided to breakdown some of the most popular knee-jerk reactions from Penn State’s season opener:
‘Penn State Will Lose To Ohio State By Double Digits’
Sam Brungo: Not an overreaction. I think Saturday will be a very scary night for the Nittany Lions — and not because it’s Halloween. Ohio State is an incredibly complete team, which we saw last weekend. Penn State isn’t prepared to play such a high-caliber opponent this early in the season.
Ryan Parsons: Although I don’t think Saturday’s game will go this poorly, it’s honestly a pretty fair reaction. Double digits could be anything from two scores to a blowout, and it’s not out of the question that Ohio State will beat the Nittany Lions by 10-plus. However, these teams have kept it pretty close in recent years despite some big disparities in rankings, so I expect another barn burner.
Gabe Angieri: It’s absolutely possible Penn State could go out on Saturday and lose to Ohio State by double digits. However, that has nothing to do with what happened in Bloomington this Saturday. Ohio State is one of the best teams in the country, and Penn State was always going to be an underdog going into this game. Led by quarterback Justin Fields, the Buckeyes have a legitimate chance to go to the College Football Playoff.
Will Pegler: Even if Penn State demolished the Hoosiers on Saturday, a blowout courtesy of Ohio State was still a possibility. However, I still believe this Penn State football team is talented. Turnovers and penalties were the Nittany Lions’ biggest issues in Bloomington, and those are fixable. If Penn State can play a game without consistently shooting itself in the foot, it’ll hang with the Buckeyes.
‘Sean Clifford Will Underperform This Season’
SB: Not an overreaction. While I don’t necessarily put the blame on Clifford, I don’t think this is an overreaction considering the hype that he’s had all offseason. However, with the exception of his two egregious interceptions, his play through the second half was a slight bright spot for the offense. I’d like to see him continue on his feet and air it out a little bit downfield.
RP: This is an overreaction most likely conceived sometime in the second quarter of the Indiana game. Although Clifford’s turnovers were ugly, he impressed me for the most part, especially with his mobility. He overall looked more accurate (despite a few bad mistakes) and dropped every deep ball he threw right in a basket. Time will tell, but I think Clifford still will have a really good season if he can remedy some of those mental errors.
GA: This is an overreaction. It’s way too soon for any Sean Clifford slander. The second-year starter had his fair share of struggles against Indiana, which included two brutal interceptions in the first half. However, he bounced back in the second half with two clutch touchdown passes late in the game. Additionally, he rushed for more than 119 yards and a touchdown.
WP: Just like I believe this Penn State team is talented, I still believe in Clifford. Look, those two interceptions were really ugly, but once he settled down, Clifford did some great things for the offense. It’s too early to count out QB1. If he plays like that second half-version of himself against Ohio State, expect everyone to hop back on the hype train.
‘James Franklin Still Can’t Close Games’
SB: This is an overreaction. Franklin said that it’s hard to come out and beat a good team in the first game of the season. The Nittany Lions usually have non-conference games to iron out the kinks, but to get thrown into a tricky Big Ten game right off the bat is tough. Penn State has seen similar early-season struggles to schools like Appalachian State and Pitt. I have complete faith in Franklin down the line in big games, and for what it’s worth, he’s not the one on the field.
RP: Noting that Franklin, in fact, did not close out Saturday’s game, this is a pretty fair reaction. He’s made a few mistakes late in important games, but I don’t think it’s fair to put these losses on him. If you expect him to be an elite coach, that might be a fair assessment. But I don’t think there’s a large enough sample size to say he flat out can’t close games. People forget about games where Franklin secured a victory in the waning moments, just like Indiana last year.
GA: I think it’s a bit too premature to hop on the “James Franklin can’t close games” bandwagon. Yes, there have been some close games that the Nittany Lions have failed to close. However, Penn State’s two losses last season (Minnesota and Ohio State) came after falling behind early in the game. Those two weren’t a case of Franklin not being able to close games. One close game to open up the 2020 season shouldn’t significantly change anyone’s opinion.
WP: While many people are focused on how that game ended, the real issue was the hole Penn State dug itself in after a horrible first half. Franklin’s problems towards the end of games was a popular storyline over the past few seasons, but I’m more concerned with this team getting out to a fast lead and playing to its full capabilities for four quarters.
‘Jake Pinegar Should Be Benched’
SB: Overreaction…for now. I am hoping to see a Sam Ficken-esque comeback for Pinegar. But if his struggles continue and we see a habitual inability to hit chip shots, it is time to fully utilize the talent Penn State has in Jordan Stout
RP: Jake Pinegar shouldn’t be benched, but Penn State may need to re-think its whole two kicker situation. Obviously, kicking is a hard job and is even harder to do without a full offseason, so inconsistencies from Pinegar are tolerable early in the year. Although his misses perhaps played a role in costing Penn State the game, he shouldn’t necessarily be benched just yet. If he starts missing extra points, that’s a different story. Again, it’s just too early to tell with these things.
GA: Really? The guy missed just one field goal last season. He showed us last year that he was consistent, and one bad game to start the season shouldn’t change that. Let’s give Pinegar the benefit of the doubt unless his struggles continue over the next couple of weeks.
WP: Relax. Pinegar didn’t play well Saturday, but the dude was as consistent as anyone could ask for in 2019, as he nailed 11 of his 12 attempts and hit every attempt from at least 40 yards out. Kickers have bad days sometimes, and I believe that was all this was for the normally steady Pinegar.
‘Penn State Is Overrated’
SB: Again, it is just too early to say this. Every good program has bad games and every good team loses to a fluke team every once in a while. I expect Penn State to still have a good season, finishing 5-3 with a win in a ninth game as well. I don’t know if the Nittany Lions will be able to beat Ohio State and Michigan, but I don’t think this is a bad team.
RP: The expectations surrounding the team this year were wishy-washy after the offseason, so “overrated” may not be the right word. Underperforming may be more of a proper assessment after the first game, but there was hardly any rating to begin with. The Nittany Lions still have a lot of talent and could totally pull off a run after the first loss. Minor setback for a major comeback.
GA: It’s absolutely way too soon to come to this conclusion. It’s been one week, folks. It’s an eight-game regular season, not a one-game season. This team is filled with talent on both sides of the ball. Sometimes it takes a week or two for a team to really gel together. Relax, and let the season play itself out.
WP: Many people felt this game against Indiana would be closer than expected, so it’s a little ridiculous to write this team off after dropping its season opener. While the Nittany Lions made several inexcusable mistakes Saturday, fans should give them time to iron those issues out and see how things play out against Ohio State.
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About the Author
Freiermuth may call Pittsburgh his home now, but he still hasn’t forgotten his roots.
Freiermuth may call Pittsburgh his home now, but he still hasn’t forgotten his roots.
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Oeuf Boeuf et Bacon — which is French for “egg, beef, and bacon” — will tentatively open in September.