Analyzing Post-Michigan Reactions For Penn State Football
Penn State football couldn’t pull off the upset against No. 6 Michigan this past weekend and now sits at 6-4 with a 3-4 mark in the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions get to play Rutgers this weekend but have an intimidating trip to Michigan State to close out the regular season. With a mediocre 7-5 seeming increasingly likely, there’s plenty of takes flying around James Franklin and his group this week.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent chatter surrounding the Nittany Lions entering the penultimate week of the season.
‘James Franklin Is Officially Overrated As A Head Coach’
Will Pegler: It looked as if James Franklin was making the move to solidify himself as a top-tier coach in the nation after the 2016 season and a couple of years on, but the Langhorne, Pa., native has no doubt taken a few steps back in that climb. Say what you want about last year, but the Nittany Lions are now 10-9 over the course of their last two seasons, and Franklin is 2-13 against top-10 opponents during his time in Happy Valley. He remains to be a great recruiter, but if he can’t win the big ones and sprinkles in a couple of losses against inferior opponents each year, I don’t know how anyone can consider him a top-tier head coach.
Sam Brungo: Call me a homer, but I still think this one is an overreaction. James Franklin is still a good coach and whether you like it or not, he is undoubtedly the best option Penn State has right now. Is it really that he is overrated, or are the expectations just unreasonable?
Gabe Angieri: This is a tough one because is he actually overrated, or do people understand he’s a flawed coach? Listen, Franklin isn’t a bad coach. He does a lot of things well. However, he doesn’t belong in the conversation when it comes to the top coaches in college football. Quite frankly, he hasn’t earned that. Win some games against highly-ranked teams, and then we’ll talk.
Ryan Parsons: With all the hate Franklin gets, I don’t know if overrated is the right word right now. After Penn State’s disastrous 2020 season and with how badly the Nittany Lions have stumbled this year, Franklin is probably properly rated. This is a hard discussion to have during the season, but I don’t think he’s an elite coach like he had the chance to be a few years ago, but he’s not a bad coach either. If he were to leave, the next option would be an immediate downgrade.
‘Constant Offensive Line Issues Will Continue Holding This Team Back In The Big Ten’
Will Pegler: A struggling offensive line is nothing new for Penn State football. However, this year has truly brought to light how a bad offensive line can hinder the rest of your offense, as the Nittany Lions’ lack of a rushing attack has held them back all season. Meanwhile, a lack of time in the pocket came to a head for Sean Clifford on Saturday. This is the Big Ten, and no matter how much college football changes, you’re going to struggle to win in this conference if you can’t run the football. Among a laundry list of other things, the Nittany Lions need to turn this position group around as soon as possible.
Sam Brungo: Unlike what is supposed to happen, this offensive line has gotten worse as the season has gone on. Granted, linemen are playing better opponents, but they just have shown very little progress and have regressed in their protection of our quarterback and running game. I don’t see this changing.
Gabe Angieri: This team needs to get consistent offensive line play, something it hasn’t had all season long. It’s unacceptable for the offensive line to be this bad. It’s that simple.
Ryan Parsons: It’s hard for Penn State to be held back in the Big Ten any further than it already has been. But, yes, the offensive line is a glaring issue and has been one for many years at this point. Sean Clifford took seven sacks against Michigan, which was only the latest beatdown in a string of bad beatdowns. The offensive line continues to show inefficiencies in run blocking schemes and incompetence in pass blocking. It’s impossible to defend at this point, and the program should take a hard look in the mirror after the season.
‘Keyvone Lee Will Have A Strong Finish To The Season’
Will Pegler: He hit holes hard on Saturday and even broke tackles here and there, but I don’t see this year’s inconsistencies turning around in just one game. Let’s see how Lee plays against Rutgers.
Sam Brungo: Keyvone is the starting back moving forward… unless he’s not. Hot hand gets the ball, and as long as he produces — which I think he will — he is the number one running back down the stretch.
Gabe Angieri: This depends on if Penn State can run-block effectively the rest of the season. If so, I think Lee will build off his nice performance against Michigan and finish the season real strong. He should be the lead back on this team, and if he gets consistent blocking up front, he’ll show why.
Ryan Parsons: Maybe? There are only two games left in the regular season, and one is against Rutgers, so I’m sure he’ll look good down the home stretch. He’s definitely Penn State’s best option at running back, but the numbers he’s putting up still aren’t amazing. Lee has improved a lot this season, so I could see him continuing the trend from the past two games.
‘The Big Ten Is The Best Conference In College Football’
Will Pegler: In Penn State’s defense, it plays a brutally hard schedule just due to the fact this conference is so deep. However, the SEC has Alabama, Georgia, and several other teams mixed in the top 25. Sure, the Big Ten teams beat up on each other quite a bit and could be a little more competitive at times, but it’s hard not to give this title to the SEC when it possesses the two best teams in college football.
Sam Brungo: No question.
Gabe Angieri: I don’t think so? Yeah, there’s a lot of above-average teams in the Big Ten. However, I don’t think there’s any great team besides Ohio State, like usual. I’m sorry, but this conference isn’t better than the SEC.
Ryan Parsons: Georgia might be better than four teams in the Big Ten combined.
‘Several Stars Are Going To Sit Out Whichever Bowl Game Penn State Gets’
Will Pegler: Yeah, if Penn State ends up beating Rutgers and losing to Michigan State, it won’t be in a bowl that guys like Jahan Dotson and Jaquan Brisker should risk injuries to play in. People get upset about it, but don’t be surprised if more than a couple of guys elect not to play.
Sam Brungo: I think certain players could benefit from an extra game to show off their abilities, but I see some of the bigger names sitting out. This includes Dotson, Brisker, Waller, and Clifford. It just isn’t worth injury for these guys at this point to win the Music City Bowl. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them play just out of their love of football, but we’ll see.
Gabe Angieri: Who knows, man. I don’t anticipate multiple Nittany Lions sitting out the bowl game, but a lot can change between now and the bowl. Additionally, besides Jahan Dotson, which Penn State star can actually afford to sit out a bowl game? It wouldn’t impact Dotson, as he’s already going to be a high draft pick. I think the rest of the team has a lot to gain from a bowl game.
Ryan Parsons: If Penn State goes to a low-level bowl, I could see some guys sitting out in order to preserve their stock for the draft. But, on the other hand, guys like Clifford or Brisker could want to ball out against a weaker team to go out on a high note. I wouldn’t count on this happening, but I wouldn’t be surprised, either.
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About the Author
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