The Red and White’s Guide to Penn State football

Ethan Struble, Staff Reporter

Penn State started off the 2021-2022 season hot as they won their first five games. 

To start, they traveled to Camp Randall on week one to take on the 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, and came out on top. Week two marked their White Out  game against visiting Auburn which they won 28-20 in a tight, close game. With two ranked wins under Penn State’s belt, they traveled to Iowa city to take on the #3 Iowa Hawkeyes. Penn State was firing on all cylinders until starting quarterback Sean Clifford went down with an injury. Penn State struggled the rest of the game and took a hard loss to go 5-1. 

Penn State had a week 7 bye and they also played Illinois week 8 at home for their Homecoming game. Illinois, hoping to walk in and spoil their Homecoming game, did just that. Penn State’s offense could not get anything going, only putting up 18 points. The game was historic though, with it being the longest game in college football history. 

The second half of Penn State’s schedule is tough with three games against Top Ten teams coming up: Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Two of those games are away games. To make matters worse, Penn State lost defensive tackle PJ Mustipher for the season due to an injury against Iowa. 

After the loss to Iowa, Penn State seemed defeated knowing that they wanted that one wanted back. They have many things that they need to look over and critique. The offensive line for example, had eight false start penalties against Iowa. The offense in total had 10 penalties which is a season high for the Nittany Lions. I believe that over the next few practices the team will focus on getting the snap count and the offensive line on the same page.

With star quarterback Sean Clifford out with an injury and no specific date to his return, the quarterback job falls to Ta’Quan Roberson. It was obvious that Ta’Quan was not getting enough reps at practice and that showed during the Iowa game. He had a total of 37 yards with him averaging 1.6 yards on the day. He threw the football 21 times and only completed 7 of those attempts and also had two interceptions. I expect Coach Franklin to give him extra reps in practice and take time to evaluate him. 

For Penn State to bounce back they need to improve their run game. Penn State going into their Illinois game averaging 3.7 rushing yards. For them to be a great team in college football they need to increase those numbers. They need to have a more balanced offense, since so far in the season they have relied on the passing. 

One of their slight weaknesses is their run defense. Against Auburn they allowed 182 rushing yards on 40 carries, which contributed to two of Auburn’s scores. With PJ Mustipher out for the season as well, the defense might see a slight struggle with the run defense. I expect players to step up and take a bigger role with him out to help this defense.

Lastly, Penn State needs to protect the ball better on offense. Against Iowa, Penn State threw four interceptions, granted Iowa had the most takeaways in the nation till then. That cannot happen if they want to win, and they didn’t win against Iowa. All Penn State can do now is, control what they can control, and stick with their 1-0 mentality.

Penn State suffered a painful loss to Illinois last Saturday, October 2 losing 20-18. Penn State’s offense wasn’t to par as they had 227 total yards of offense. Penn State is now 5-2 and they dropped to #20 in the top 25 AP Poll.

As of press time, Penn State will travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on #5 Ohio State Buckeyes. Penn State opens up as a -17.5 point underdog, and only has a 13% chance to win according to ESPN’s FPI. It is a must win for Penn State to keep the season alive.