Practically each preseason analysis Penn State coach James Franklin has product of his 2022 soccer workforce has ended like this.
“I like the place we’re at, however you guys will inform me very clearly the place we’re at on the first [of September].”
Franklin begins his ninth season as Penn State’s head coach Sept. 1 at Purdue, a recreation that might decide the course of this season. We are saying might as a result of the Lions started final yr with a win over Wisconsin, a 5-0 document and a No. 4 rating within the AP Prime 25 earlier than committing a dramatic freefall,
The 7-6 season included probably the most disappointing end of Franklin’s head-coaching profession, one which has bled into 2022 irrespective of how exhausting the Lions attempt to bury it. Consequently, Franklin qualifies each evaluation with the “you guys” clause.
Although Franklin could also be reluctant to make predictions, we’re not. This is our have a look at the very best and worst of 2022.
Penn State’s Offensive MVP
Quarterback Sean Clifford. The fourth-year starter in all probability will not mount a Kenny Picketesque season however will shut his faculty profession with a shine. A wholesome Clifford ought to throw for 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns and lead a comeback win.
Penn State’s Defensive MVP
Linebacker Curtis Jacobs. The shift to Will linebacker will empower Jacobs to showcase his pace and lateral motion nearer to the road of scrimmage. And defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will discover some artistic methods to make use of Jacobs.
The workforce’s greatest power
The secondary. There are two, and doubtlessly 4, NFL Draft picks within the group, led by security Ji’Ayir Brown and cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Once more, Diaz has loads of choices, together with taking part in extra five-man units with corners Daequan Hardy, Johnny Dixon or Marquis Wilson.
The workforce’s greatest query mark
The offensive line. We’ll preserve saying it till the scenario modifications. Franklin nonetheless is on the lookout for his first All-Large Ten first-time lineman at Penn State. He is additionally on the lookout for a line that may lead a 4-minute offense persistently and decisively within the fourth quarter.
Penn State’s main rusher
Working again Nicholas Singleton. Put together your self for an additional backfield rotation, not less than towards Purdue. Working backs coach Ja’Juan Seider stated that every one 4 scholarship backs will play towards the Boilermakers. That features freshmen Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Finally, although, Singleton would be the breakout participant of Penn State’s offense. He additionally will finish Penn State’s streak of video games with no 100-yard rusher, which stands at 16 coming into the season.
Participant you do not know now however will by October
Security Zakee Wheatley. The redshirt freshman led the protection in takeaways throughout spring drills and coaching camp. Wheatley performed level guard and heart area in highschool, so he is aware of methods to discover the ball.
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Largest sneakers to fill
Punter Barney Amor. The sixth-year senior will substitute Jordan Stout, the Large Ten punter of the yr who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Amor final punted in 2019 Colgate, the place he earned two undergraduate levels. Particular groups coach Stacy Collins has turn out to be an enormous fan of Amor since becoming a member of this system.
Penn State’s unsung hero
Linebacker Jonathan Sutherland. One other sixth-year senior, Sutherland has began three video games as a defensive participant. However he is a four-time workforce captain, instructions respect within the locker room and is taking part in a place that appears to go well with him. Sutherland might be a breakout participant at Sam linebacker.
Subsequent coach almost definitely to turn out to be a head coach
Diaz is the obvious candidate, however we’ll go together with safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter. He got here shut final yr at Virginia, his alma mater, and can generate extra curiosity this offseason.
Coach on the recent seat
Offensive line coach Phil Trautwein. He is an excellent one that has a robust command of the finer factors of line play. However final yr was among the many weakest for Penn State’s line underneath Franklin. If nothing modifications in Trautwein’s third yr, Franklin will likely be scouting.
Nov. 26 towards Michigan State. Saving the very best for final, Penn State concludes the common season with a Senior Day win that leads into the query: What number of seniors are skipping the bowl recreation?
Most irritating loss
Oct. 22 towards Minnesota. One other 5-0 begin will ship the Lions to Michigan on Oct. 15 for a top-10 matchup. After Michigan wins, Penn State returns residence for the White Out towards Minnesota. And Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck and offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, who labored at Penn State in 2020, renew requires Franklin’s ouster by successful in State School. This marks that annual recreation when the whole lot simply goes flawed for Franklin and his workforce.
Penn State document prediction
9-3. The Lions have the potential to win 10 regular-season video games and would possibly even catch Ohio State flatfooted at residence in October. However after successful early street video games towards Purdue and Auburn, October strikes, and Penn State loses three straight. And the Michigan-Ohio State curse continues (Franklin is 4-12 towards them).
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AllPennState is the place for Penn State information, opinion and perspective on the SI.com community. Writer Mark Wogenrich has lined Penn State for greater than 20 years, monitoring three teaching staffs, three Large Ten titles and a catalog of nice tales. Comply with him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And contemplate subscribing (button’s on the house web page) for extra nice content material throughout the SI.com community.