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How PSU Players Felt About Their Saturdays off

Sean Clifford

This Saturday, Penn State’s players weren’t performing in front of thousands like they usually do on weekends this time of year, so they had to find other things. 

Nobody on Penn State’s roster has more experience with college football bye weeks than Sean Clifford. 

The sixth-year quarterback was a redshirt during his first bye week in 2017 and a backup for his second one the following year. By the 2019 season, Clifford was Penn State’s starter. 

In 2019, Penn State had two bye weeks, one in September and another in November. 

The 2020 season was an outlier due to COVID-19. Last year, Clifford and Penn State went into the bye week coming off a now-infamous loss to Iowa in Week 6 and suffered a more-infamous loss to Illinois in nine overtimes at home in its first game out of the bye. 

This year, Penn State has a massive game at Michigan after two weeks without playing, and barring something unforeseen, Clifford will be Penn State’s starting quarterback. 

This past weekend, Clifford didn’t play football. 

So what did he do? 

Well, for one, he tried to keep some aspects of his regular fall Saturday.

“It’s taking that Saturday and not completely getting out of your routine,” Clifford told reporters via Zoom Tuesday. “Waking up at a decent time, making sure that you’re still getting a stretch. I still got to be able to go and exercise quickly and just being able to enjoy the day. That’s what it’s really all about for me.”

Clifford also spent time with his girlfriend and went to a pumpkin patch this past weekend. 

The 24-year-old enjoyed his Saturday off. 

“You put in the whole week of prep to get ready for the next week’s opponent, and then you don’t have to play anybody on the Saturday,” he said. “So it is refreshing. It is nice to be able to have that time off. 

One of Clifford’s offensive linemen, Sal Wormley, hadn’t experienced a bye week as a Penn State regular. 

Wormley redshirted his freshman season in 2019, dealt with pandemic-style football in 2020 and missed last season due to injury. 

Now, Wormley is Penn State’s starting right guard and loves every minute of it. 

Not being able to play this past week created more anxiety than relaxation for Wormley.

“It was more of an annoyance because this is my first year starting,” Wormley said. “So I’ve been really excited for every single game every week that comes by. So having that off week is just amping up my anxiety a little bit, my excitement because I couldn’t do anything this past Saturday.”

Wormley did enjoy getting to spend time with his girlfriend this past weekend. 

“I was just chilling with my girl,” he said. 

Jaylen Reed is in a similar boat to Wormley. 

Although the safety has only been with Penn State since the 2021 season, two years after Wormley’s arrival, last week was Reed’s first bye-week as a significant contributor to Penn State’s team. Reed was still getting his feet wet as a true freshman last October. 

Reed always wants to be playing Saturday. At the same time appreciated what the week off brought to the team.

“Of course, I want to play football,” Reed said. “Of course, I wanted to play football this Saturday, but it’s a great time for us to recover, get better, dive into more film and get ready for our next opponent so we can go 1-0.”

Overall, Clifford was happy the brief time off allowed him and his teammates to be human beings. 

“That’s who we are,” Clifford said. “We might be football players, but we also like to enjoy some things outside of football as well.”

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