Blue White Illustrated

June-July 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 67

2 2 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M S P R I N G F O O T B A L L 2 0 2 2 The Nittany Lions have the potential for a bounce-back season after a productive spring. Here are 10 reasons why. E very team comes out of spring practice undefeated, which means that this time of year is a period of great optimism around college foot- ball. During the late spring and summer, everyone can afford to think big. That kind of thinking comes naturally to Penn State. Its recent history may suggest that a bit of caution is warranted — the Nittany Lions are 11-11 during the past two seasons — but the program's long-term success never fails to inspire hope, even when looking ahead to what might seem like a rebuilding year. With all that in mind, here are 10 rea- sons to feel hopeful about how Penn State is shaping up coming out of spring ball: 1. The offensive line may be coming around. You're skeptical. We get it. James Franklin gets it, too. He's talked in each of the past few offseasons about strides being made and corners being turned, and yet this position group has not developed into the asset that Penn State needs it to be if the team is going to compete at a Big Ten championship level. Following the Blue-White Game, Franklin talked to reporters about the need to narrow the gap between rhetoric and reality. "Can we take a step where you guys ask about the offensive line, and I say something and then we back it up?" he asked. "On the offensive line, that has been a question." It'll continue to be a question until the Lions start running the ball with more authority. They had some minor injury problems this spring but did enough to convince the coaching staff that the position group is headed in a positive direction. So p h o m o re O l u Fa s h a n u h a d a chance to get acclimated at left tackle after making his first career start in the Outback Bowl, while another potential starter, redshirt junior guard Sal Worm- ley, was back after missing last season with an injury. With Fashanu and Wormley on the rise, and two starters returning in se- nior center Juice Scruggs and redshirt sophomore right tackle Caedan Wal- lace, the Lions appear to have the talent they need for a turnaround here. 2. The pieces are in place for Sean Clifford to enjoy his best season. You may be skeptical about this, too. Penn State has gone .500 over the past two seasons, and it's always tempting to view a team's overall performance as a referendum on the starting quarterback. But the team was playing pretty well last year until Clifford got hurt at Iowa in Week 6, and even though he returned to action in Penn State's next game against Illinois, he clearly was in a lot of pain. Despite the injury and a subsequent illness that knocked him out of the Rut- gers game, Clifford ended the season with 3,107 passing yards and 21 touch- downs against eight interceptions. Now a sixth-year senior, he is bring- ing 33 games of starting experience to the Nittany Lions this fall, and he has gotten more than a year of tutelage from B Y B W I S TA F F Third-year sophomore running back Keyvone Lee has led the Nittany Lions in rushing the past two seasons, gaining 438 yards in 2020 and 530 last year. PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL Hope Springs Eternal

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue White Illustrated - June-July 2022