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Bye Week Arrives Just In Time For Penn State Football

After its first loss of the season this past Saturday, No. 7 Penn State football couldn’t have found a better time for a bye week.

Despite the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of a tough Iowa team now ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Nittany Lions are still 5-1 and control their own destiny. The remaining schedule is tough, but winning out means a spot in the Big Ten Championship. Even another loss could be manageable considering how much football is left on the table.

A bye week reiterates that sentiment in so many ways. Now, the Nittany Lions have a chance to address some pressing issues while they rest up.

The biggest topic after the loss to the Hawkeyes? Injuries. Penn State will now have a chance to reassess where it stands after several knocks to key players, including Sean Clifford. It remains to be seen what type of injury the veteran signal-caller sustained against the Hawkeyes in the second quarter, but he could be seen on the sideline in the second half wearing a t-shirt without any crutches or a cast.

There’s no reason to speculate too much on Clifford’s injury, but if it’s manageable enough that a week’s rest will help him return to full health, then this bye week is just about perfect. On the other hand, if the Cincinnati native will need to miss extended time, a week off gives Mike Yurcich time to build a more manageable offense for Ta’Quan Roberson.

It’s hard to blame the redshirt sophomore for Saturday’s long list of miscues, mainly considering the pressure and intensity of the situation for such an inexperienced player. But that doesn’t mean he won’t need to improve immensely over the course of the next several days if he’s the starter against Illinois or even further. Who knows how much growth he can find in that time, but a week of reps with the first-team certainly won’t hurt for Roberson.

Along with Clifford’s injury, the Nittany Lions now have time to assess the damage after PJ Mustipher, Jonathan Sutherland, John Lovett, and Devyn Ford went down against the Hawkeyes.

The seriousness of any of those injuries is also unknown, but even outside of those names, other players now have a chance to deal with bumps and bruises that may have been nagging them up to the halfway point. Notably, safety Jaquan Brisker dealt with an injury in the Wisconsin game back in week one, while Noah Cain was “dinged up” against Villanova.

Again, Penn State discloses little to no information on injuries unless they’re season-ending, but if Cain was hurt all the way back in week four, then a week off would certainly do him good. In fact, considering the struggles Penn State’s rushing attack has faced this season, some time away could serve as a recharge for a group that has largely disappointed through six games.

Finally, the Nittany Lions’ schedule is really, really hard. As the slate stands, Penn State has remaining games against three top-10 squads in Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Those will come fast and furious in the back half of the schedule, and a mid-season rest could be the difference in running out of steam against gritty, always-tough conference opponents.

Folks may argue that a bye week can get a team out of rhythm, but after sustaining some major injuries in the first loss of the season, the Nittany Lions look like they need a break now more than ever. With a massive six-game slate coming for James Franklin’s squad, it’s time for the group to reassess and get some rest. After all, there’s plenty of football left to be played.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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