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It’s Time To Rally Behind Penn State Football

Every year, Penn State football’s first loss of the season is always an emotional one. Saturday’s defeat to No. 3 Iowa was no different.

The Nittany Lions were cruising and riding high until Sean Clifford exited the game late in the second quarter due to an undisclosed injury. The offense ran out of rhythm, and injuries plagued the team as it suffered its first loss of the season in a game that Penn State, arguably, should have won.

Unfortunately, a loss like that brings a lot of criticism to coaches and players.

It’s hard to get on Ta’Quan Roberson’s case for his performance after Clifford exited the game Saturday. The redshirt sophomore was called up in one of the most difficult environments to play in college football out of nowhere, and he was obviously rattled. The New Jersey native ended up rushing for 24 yards and completing only 7 of 21 passes for 85 yards with two interceptions. You can definitely make the argument that it is fair to criticize Roberson, but now isn’t the time to put him down.

There is a difference between fair criticism and blatantly going too far. It’s not cool to lay into players and go as far as making hateful comments on their social media posts. This doesn’t go for just Roberson, but all who play for Penn State’s teams. There’s no value in screaming profanities in their DMs or even in Beaver Stadium when someone misses a tackle or doesn’t make a play. Sean Clifford suffered from this after Penn State’s loss to Minnesota in 2019. The quarterback ended up deleting all social media after receiving death threats, and he’s still got his comments turned off on Instagram.

I started watching Penn State football when I was 11 years old in 2012. Even though it was a long time ago, there was one story that has always stuck out to me and made me and many others fall in love with Penn State: Sam Ficken.

The former Penn State kicker was suddenly made the starter when Anthony Fera transferred to Texas when the NCAA placed sanctions on Penn State football following news of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Ficken made national headlines when he missed four of five field goals and one extra point in Penn State’s loss to Virginia in week two of the 2012 season.

People reacted harshly toward Ficken, but students and fans made a point to stick with the turned-star kicker and rallied behind him. From cheering in Beaver Stadium to even Nittanyville banners saying “Stickin’ with Ficken,” it was all remarkable. It showed everybody how special Penn State was, and the support fueled Ficken to become an all-star kicker.

Positive energy and support from the community can go a long way in the heads of the players. It can even help improve their on-field product and motivate them more. And if it doesn’t, so what? Nobody deserves hate over losing a football game. They’re college students who are trying their best, and nobody should lose sight of that.

The season is far from over, and as cliche as it sounds, Penn State controls its own destiny. With Penn State’s schedule only getting more difficult in the coming weeks, it’s important to rally around the team and help lift the players up as students and fans did to Ficken in 2012. Who knows! It could even lead to a Big Ten title or national championship.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected]

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