Blue White Illustrated

June-July 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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8 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 OPENING SHOT A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE Following the Blue-White Game, James Franklin said that super senior quarterback Sean Clifford had enjoyed the best spring of his Penn State career. Clifford has been at PSU since 2017, and he's been the team's starting quarterback since the beginning of the 2019 season. He's played in 38 games, started 33 and thrown for 7,839 yards — the third-highest total in school history. Given all that experience, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Clifford is feeling good as he prepares for his final college season. Still, for Penn State fans eager to see the team rebound from last year's 7-6 finish, it was reassuring to hear him say it. "I feel so confident," Clifford gushed after the spring game, in which he completed 4 of 7 passes for 41 yards and the game's only touchdown. "It was my best spring. I'm not going to harp on myself that long, but I feel great. My mind is clear, and I'm having a blast. This is a great team and a really great group of people. "I think that we're talented … and there are no egos in the [quarterback] room or throughout the whole team. It's fun to lead this team." The 2021 season was a deflating experience in many ways, particularly for the offense, which averaged 25 points per game to rank ninth in the Big Ten and 90th in the FBS. If egos are at a manageable size this offseason, memories of last year's showing may be at least partly responsible. Clifford was exuding confidence ahead of last season, too, and he understands that a lot of fans are in a show-me mood as they look ahead to the 2022 season. But he's now had more than a year to work with offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, and he's grown more confident in the system that Yurich wants to run. "It's second-year-in-the-system confidence," he said. "I feel like I've seen every look in this offense specifically. I know the terminology like it's the back of my hand. I know what plays we want to be in for certain looks. When we get a look that I don't like, I know the checks to get us out of those looks. "You're going to see me at the line talking to the offensive linemen a lot more, making sure that we're in the right play 100 percent of the time. I can make sure that we're always in the right play on the field and make those checks. Coach Franklin and Coach Yurcich have both given me a lot of freedom and responsibility, and I'm up for the challenge every single time." PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL

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