On Saturday afternoon, the regular season will come to a close in a battle for what is the most beautifully assembled trophy in all of creation: The Land-Grant Trophy.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 23, 2022
A thing of beauty indeed.
While there is some jest involved, winning the Land-Grant Trophy back from Michigan State would be the perfect way to end the regular season portion of the schedule.
Prior to that battle though is Thanksgiving and there’s plenty to be thankful for with the Nittany Lions.
The youth movement has provided a multitude of sparks throughout the program this season.
From the explosion of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen in the backfield to the promise for the future in Drew Allar to the spectacular play of Abdul Carter, the young players have shown there’s much more to come from them and the Nittany Lions both this year and beyond.
Having an impressive running game and the promise of Allar at quarterback is enough to make many salivate and add to it the level of athlete Carter is and has shown he can be and it’s a recipe for success on both sides of the football as they all etch their legacies with the Nittany Lions.
While much is to be decided about what’s next for the group of freshmen, the Penn State faithful get another chance to see them on display at Beaver Stadium this weekend and they shouldn’t disappoint.
MAKING THE RIGHT HIRE
James Franklin has made some questionable hires during his tenure at Penn State in guys like David Corley, Kirk Ciarrocca, etc.
Of late, his hires have been spot on. From Taylor Stubblefield to Anthony Poindexter to this year’s hire of the the year Manny Diaz.
Not only have these guys provided stability at their position group especially Stubblefield and the wide receivers, they’ve assembled a quality group of coaches who’ve fit the mold Franklin is putting together at Penn State.
Diaz will get the accolades and rightfully so, but the impact Poindexter has had on the secondary at the safety position can’t be understated. Should Ji’Ayir Brown head to the NFL Draft, he would follow in Jaquan Brisker’s footsteps as a safety selected in the first two rounds.
Will Diaz be at Penn State long term? Probably not, but the foundation he’s helping set for maximizing the talents of his linebackers and defenders is being laid and it will prove beneficial down the road for the Nittany Lions.
THE SEAN CLIFFORD EXPERIENCE
The Sean Clifford Experience gets its final showtime at Beaver Stadium against the Spartans Saturday. It has been a roller coaster for the four years Clifford has been a starter, but the Nittany Lions are better because of it.
His career has been unique to say the least as it’s featured its fair share of wins and losses, perfect passes and head-scratching interceptions. Clifford will leave Penn State as the most polarizing player in program history for some of the right reasons and the wrong reasons as well.
He will go down in the record books holding many of the records Trace McSorley set just a few years before and who Clifford backed up way back when.
There has been praise, criticism and everything in between and Clifford has handled it all with professionalism and maturity many wish they could have.
Embrace Clifford’s final game at Beaver Stadium because for better or worse, there’s not going to be another quarterback quite like him for quite some time.
JAMES FRANKLIN’S HOT SEAT METER
Right now, the meter is off.
And though, the meter is off, the game against Mel Tucker and Michigan State serves as the perfect example of the dangers of a contract extension. Franklin and Tucker were both awarded long-term deals this off-season.
Franklin’s came on the heels of back-to-back sub-par seasons at Penn State while Tucker’s came off a 2021 season with Kenneth Walker and a Peach Bowl win over Pitt. Beyond that season, Tucker hasn’t had a winning year in East Lansing.
The positive for Franklin is that while the wins against Ohio State have been scarce, he’s become a proven winner in an uber competitive Big Ten East.