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Turnovers Once Again Plague Penn State In Embarrassing Loss To Iowa

Punxsutawney is more than 75 miles away from Beaver Stadium, but it sure did feel like Groundhog Day for Penn State football on Saturday.

Turnovers proved to be a problem for the Nittany Lions yet again against Iowa. Although it was hardly the deciding factor amid a wholly disappointing loss, Penn State didn’t give itself the chance to win by repeatedly turning the ball over.

Iowa scored 27 of its 41 points off Penn State turnovers, which amounted to four by the end of the day. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, only turned the ball over once. Penn State only walked away with six points after recovering the one Iowa fumble.

Head coach James Franklin was quick to address the turnover situation in his postgame press conference.

“The story of the game is you can’t turn the ball over,” Franklin said. “That’s been the story of the season: turnovers…you can’t turn the ball over and when you have opportunities to get turnovers, you gotta get them.”

This turnover issue is the continuation of a season-long trend. Franklin said a three-turnover game against Indiana in week one was “uncharacteristic,” but the issues have persisted since.

Penn State’s margin in the turnover battle was -1 against Indiana, -1 against Ohio State, -3 against Maryland, -1 against Nebraska, and -3 against Iowa. This obviously hasn’t cut it for Penn State all year, and it won’t cut it moving forward.

Penn State’s quarterbacks have been the main source of turnovers all year. The Nittany Lions’ eight interceptions tied with Michigan State for the most in the Big Ten. Ironically, Penn State’s 1,395 offensive yards are also good for second-most in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions repeatedly put themselves in the position to score, and then proceed to shoot themselves in the foot.

Penn State’s shuffling around of starting quarterbacks is directly correlated to the turnover issue as well. James Franklin wants the guy who takes care of the ball to lead the offense but, unfortunately, neither Sean Clifford nor Will Levis have been able to do that consistently this year.

“The whole reason for the [quarterback] change was the turnovers,” Franklin said. “And then we made the change to go with Will…but then we started to turn the ball over again when the whole reason for the change was turnovers.”

Penn State went with Levis against most of Nebraska and Iowa because of Clifford’s turnovers, but Levis had to be pulled because of his turnovers. This brutal cycle means Penn State hasn’t been able to catch its breath on offense all year.

So, where have these turnover issues come from? Clifford only turned the ball over seven times in 13 games during the 2019 season, but he’s thrown eight picks already this year. Team leader Jahan Dotson thinks it may come down to practice.

“Maybe we’re not taking the turnover period in practice well enough,” Dotson said. “We can’t take that period lightly. We gotta come to practice and during that period, specifically, we gotta go as hard as we can. Because the turnovers — they kill you.”

Penn State practices and talks about ball security often, but successes in that area have yet to come to fruition this season.

Dotson added that offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca constantly preaches that “the ball is the program.” If the ball is the program, the program is in a tough spot.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a junior business major from Bucks County and is Onward State's social media manager. He writes about a lot of things. He's a huge Philly sports fan, back to back to back failed entrepreneur, and he appeared on the Rachel Ray Show at the age of 5. If you want to gain absolutely nothing, you can follow him on twitter @rjparsons9. Any "serious" inquiries or death threats can be sent to [email protected]

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