Penn State fans won’t have to wait as long as they normally do before the season opener, as James franklin and the Nittany Lions will begin their season for the first time on Thursday, September 1. The confrontation against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., is not only one of the best games of the first week, but it could have a big impact on how the Nittany Lions’ season goes.
With another road trip to Chestnut scheduled for two weeks later, aside from the normal grind that is the Big Ten East, the schedule ranks among the toughest in college football this season. That said, there is still reason for optimism in 2022. Our staff gives their thoughts on the season with just five days left until Thursday night’s matchup at FOX.
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Much of Penn State’s outlook for 2022 feels tied to the outcome of its first three games. Ohio shouldn’t cause any problems, but opening the year at Purdue for a nationally televised Thursday night game and then traveling to Auburn for a non-main conference game is downright treacherous.
The difference in potential between 1-2, 2-1 or 3-0 could not be more marked. While I think Penn State could come out unscathed, the most likely outcome is probably somewhere in the middle. For Penn State’s sake, however, starting off well with a win over the Boilermakers is more important to their season than a win at Auburn.
The offense should be better. Penn State’s defense, given its elite performance a year ago, will probably take a small step back. How does everything shake, then?
All things considered, Penn State’s fortunes are likely to fall somewhere in the middle if major injuries at key positions can be avoided in a way that wasn’t a year ago. Highly competitive with a schedule that has a couple of heavyweights but many more similar opponents, Penn State begins the process of getting back on track this season.
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Call me optimistic, but I see that the floor of this team is around eight or nine wins. Let’s start with the offense. attacking player be clifford he’s at his worst when he’s unsure of his reads in a new offense. The last two seasons have clearly demonstrated this. When he’s not sure, he pressures and makes bad plays when he catches the ball.
Despite that, he was the only one who carried the team last season and still kept it competitive in most games. Having more support from a talent-rich backfield and receiving corps should relieve him of carrying all the load. The offensive line is young in key spots but he has a lot more talent than he did last season.
On the other side of the ball, there are some concerns about the transition to a new defense and the lack of proven pass rush. However, Penn State is full of young defensive talent on the edge.
The high school is in a precarious position in manny of Diaz system. The ultra-aggressive coordinator is bringing a fast and direct defense to Happy Valley. If the pass rush doesn’t come home, big plays can happen. However, Penn State has talent in key areas like the corners, the safety and the rim. Nine wins feels like a reasonable bet, but a 10-win season is possible.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect Sean Clifford to do what Kenny Pickett did at Pitt last year, but the Nittany Lions don’t need their sixth-year senior quarterback to become a Heisman Trophy finalist to get the offense moving. They just need you to feel more comfortable in year 2 under the coordinator Miguel Yurcich than in year 1, and also to stay healthy.
This last point should not be underestimated. Even with all their ballhandling struggles, the Lions probably would have won two more games last year if Clifford hadn’t been hurt, and their final regular-season record wouldn’t have looked so disgusting at 9-3.
Penn State averaged just 25 points per game and was limited to 20 or fewer points in four Big Ten games, so it’s only natural to focus on offense heading into the 2022 season. To me, though, the defense looks at least the same. of worrying. In addition to the dearth of proven pass-rushing experience, the linebacking corps seems dangerously thin and possibly ill-equipped to handle offenses like Michigan’s that are going to hit the ground.
It wouldn’t take much defensive regression to undo the gains Penn State hopes to make on offense. I think there is likely to be some regression, so while the Lions are probably better than they were a year ago, they won’t be dramatically better. An eight- or nine-win season sounds good, and I always prefer to round down.
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A new season is here for Penn State. Will the Lions perform better than their last two seasons, which resulted in a combined 11-11 record, in 2022? Or will this year feature more of the same frustrations that have rankled fans for what many feel is too long?
There are many positive aspects to point out. Manny Diaz is bringing an aggressive defensive scheme to State College. Then, on offense, there’s continuity between sophomore coordinator Mike Yurcich and returning quarterback Sean Clifford. Add some exciting newcomers like the freshman racer Nick uniqueand young players poised for bigger roles as a sophomore junior catcher parker Washington and sophomore cornerback Calen Kingand there are reasons for hope.
However, Clifford’s health condition will weigh on the show as it has for the past two seasons. Also, there’s no guarantee that the stalwart veteran defensive tackle pjs Mustiferous it will return to its previous form immediately. Combine that with a brutal schedule and it’s easy to see valid concerns.
All told, Penn State will be better in the regular season, but not yet in the Big Ten East conversation at the end of November.
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As important as it is for Sean Clifford to play well at quarterback, for me, the running game on both sides of the ball is key. On offense, Penn State averaged just 108 rushing yards per game last year. Compare that to the previous three seasons, when he averaged 205 (2018), 191 (2019) and 174 (2020) yards per game. Defensively, the Lions finished 10th in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed, giving up 152 per game. Penn State allowed an average of just 95 rushing yards the year it won the Cotton Bowl.
On offense, I think we’ll see improvements. The addition of the Cornell transfer Hunter nourzadplus Salt WormleyThe irruption of this preseason will help up front. sophomore tackle olu Fashanu he’ll have his growing pains at times, but he’ll eventually emerge as an NFL prospect over the next two seasons. Among Keyvone Leeward, kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton, they can only get better compared to last year.
However, I’m not as confident defensively. The line was pushed at times last year, and when compared arnold Ebikietie’s production to everyone else, it will not be easy to replace. Throw in some inexperienced linebackers and I think Penn State will have a hard time curbing those quality programs.
The schedule isn’t easy on paper, though Purdue and Auburn have plenty of trouble. I think the Lions will start 2-0 but lose to both of them. Ohio Condition Y Michigan. That Auburn game feels like a draw, and PSU usually drops a game that it shouldn’t. I’ll go 9-3.