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  1. #81
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    Penn state vs. Kentucky: Citrus bowl recap

    RECAP: Kentucky 27, Penn State 24



    I don’t know about you folks, but I’m getting pretty tired of Penn State losing games in which the statistics say it should not.

    And yet, here we are, facing a Citrus Bowl loss where the Nittany Lions outgained the Wildcats by nearly 100 yards.

    Kentucky jumped out to a 10-0 lead in large part due to Phil Galiano not having his special teams unit well drilled, again.

    Penn State responded with a fantastic drive in the second quarter to cut it to 10-7 where it would remain until halftime.

    The Wildcats came out and made a statement drive to begin the second half, running it right down the throats of the Nittany Lions to go up 17-7 on a drive where Cam Brown was ejected for targeting.

    Things went from bad to worse when Sean Clifford took the field with the first-team offense for PSU as reports circulated that Trace McSorley had broken his foot and would not return.

    Penn State gained just eight yards on five plays and after Kentucky took a 20-7 lead on a 29-yard field goal.

    McSorley returned but threw and interception almost immediately that was returned to near midfield. The ‘Cats then scored again and appeared to be running away with it up 27-7.

    But then the Nittany Lions seemed to wake up.

    McSorley led his team down the field 75 yards in just 2:58 and scored on a 1-yard run.

    Penn State forced a three and out and then the Nittany Lions struck again, this time with six-play, 60-yard drive in 2:24 to make it a one-score game at 27-21.

    Brent Pry’s unit then forced another three and out and PSU had the ball back looking for the lead.

    The offense drove down the field inside the red zone but, facing fourth and six at the 14 with under five minutes to play, James Franklin elected to kick a field goal to cut the score to 27-24.

    That decision would prove costly as the Wildcats all but ran out the clock, punting with under 10 seconds to play and leaving the Nittany Lions with just :01 to go 80-plus yards.’

    They didn’t.

    In all. the game was a great description of how the season has gone for PSU: underwhelming and mistake-filled but with flashes of hope.

    Penn State finishes the season with a 9-4 record and now will head to the offseason to prepare for Idaho at Beaver Stadium in September.


    3 Key Takeaways: Special Teams Ultimately Doom Nittany Lions in 27-24 Loss

    Special Teams are still disaster

    New day, same story for Penn State’s special teams. The Nittany Lions, who special teams were average to awful over the regular season, were once again awful against Kentucky. The number of miscues the special teams unit had throughout the game seemed to be countless, and they started from the very first series of the game. Add in a punt return allowed for a touchdown, two missed field goals, a bad decision to field/not field a punt and that was just the first half. The special teams were slightly better in the second half but the overall special teams product is still unfathomable. Ultimately, the two missed field goals cost Penn State the chance to win the game. James Franklin needs to sit down and think hard about the future of Phil Galiano.,

    Playing to lose?

    We had another possible case of playing to lose for Penn State on Tuesday. On the fourth quarter, Penn State had a fourth-and-6 near the end zone but chose to kick the field goal instead going for a first down or a touchdown. The defense had held Kentucky in the entire fourth quarter until the final drive, when Kentucky picked up two first downs. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such a decision and nearly every time its cost Penn State. This one should stick with James Franklin.

    We Already Knew This, but Trace McSorley is One Tough Dude

    What else can you say, the man is a fighter and he almost brought Penn State back in improbable fashion. This loss doesn’t hurt much for fans I think in the idea of a loss but the fact that Trace’s last game was ultimately a loss. McSorley didn’t have his best first half but his second half was incredible and it just fell short. His final game personally reminded me of his first real game action against Georgia, an improbable second half comeback that ended just short. He’ll go down as the greatest quarterback in program history. There’s a lot we can say about him, but we’ll have plenty of love for Trace over the offseason. But for now, we tip our cap to Trace for one last gritty performance.

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  3. #82
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    Penn State’s Miles Sanders becomes fifth Lion to leave early for the NFL Draft; how w

    Penn State junior Miles Sanders has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

    The Nittany Lions' ball carrier only started one season for head coach James Franklin’s team, but it was an impressive one, as he finished with 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns while also contributing some in the passing game during the team’s 9-4 2018 season.

    Sanders is the fifth Lion to elect to leave school early for the pros, as he joins former teammates Shareef Miller, Ryan Bates, Connor McGovern, and Kevin Givens in announcing his future plans following PSU’s 27-24 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

    “As I prepare for the road ahead, I truly believe this is the next best step for my future,” Sanders wrote in a statement announcing his decision.

    Everything 1K 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/k67nDaUo5A
    — Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) January 3, 2019

    As for who will replace Sanders, sophomore-to-be Ricky Slade, who carried the ball 45 times for 257 yards and six touchdowns, will have the inside track to be the new feature back, but he’ll be pushed by Journey Brown and incoming freshmen Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, the former of which arrives in January.

    Sanders was listed as ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s No. 6 draft-eligible running back in November, while CBS Sports calls him a likely Day 3 selection during April’s Draft.

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  5. #83
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    Firing of Penn State WR coach David Corley a long time coming

    n one of the least surprising moves of the college football offseason, Penn State fired wide receivers coach David Corley on Wednesday — a day after the 27-24 Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky and a full season after his position group committed drop after drop.

    “I appreciate David’s efforts this season but feel it is in our program’s best interest to make a change at this time,” head coach James Franklin said in a written statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

    The Corley experiment was set to fail from almost the very beginning. The William & Mary alum was initially hired to coach the running backs but, after assistant Josh Gattis bolted to Alabama two weeks later, the Nittany Lions moved him to wideouts and hired another assistant.

    That switch wasn’t exactly a perfect fit. In 2017, Corley had coached Army’s receivers — a position group that accounted for 10 combined receptions in 13 games. Corley began his coaching career in 2004 but never before oversaw receivers for back-to-back seasons.

    His firing was a long time coming.

    After Penn State’s first two games of the season, in which both veteran starters Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins struggled, Frankin told reporters, “I have the utmost confidence in those guys, and I think they are both going to have huge years for us.” Franklin often repeated that line early in the season — but it didn’t continue through October. Because they didn’t.

    In mid-October, Pro Football Focus revealed in numbers what most fans mumbled in the stands — the receiving corps had regressed considerably. Five games into the season, and the Nittany Lions had committed 17 drops, which was tied for the worst mark in the Power 5. What made those numbers even more incomprehensible was the fact Trace McSorley threw just 137 passes at the time. The other teams tied for first included Washington State (Gardner Minshew, 314 attempts) and Utah (Tyler Huntley, 152 attempts).

    The issue of drops never got better. Johnson, who was projected in the preseason to go as high as No. 7 overall in the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t have more than two catches in a game after September. The 6-foot-4 wideout also finished the season with a single TD catch. Brandon Polk took a step back. Thompkins wasn’t the deep threat he was in years past.

    The Nittany Lions’ best pass-catcher became a true freshman tight end in Pat Freiermuth. And McSorley’s completion rate dropped from 66.5 percent in 2017 to 53.2 percent in 2018.

    Corley wasn’t the lone source of the passing game struggles. McSorley was injured part of the season, offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne made his share of mistakes, and it was a tall task to replace the likes of DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki. But the receivers’ production fell far short of both their talent and the staff’s expectations.

    Corley may have failed in his one season as a Penn State assistant coach. But his hiring was purely the fault of Franklin, who remembered interviewing him back at Vanderbilt. The head coach now “will immediately begin a national search for Corley’s replacement,” according to a news release from the university.

    Hopefully for fans, this time, the head coach taps someone with a track record.

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  7. #84
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    Words to Remember for the Nittany Lions in 2019

    There are a few words that come up if you're really listening to what James Franklin, Trace McSorley and Nick Scott are saying. One head coach, and two leaders that have been around the block a few times.

    The words, and the message, it's all right there.

    "I think with everybody pulling the rope in the same direction there is no reason why we can't take this program where everybody wants it to be," Franklin said at his introductory press conference.

    The rope hasn't been spoken of in a while after being a regular member of the early Franklin narrative. Penn State's three-year run to the upper reaches of the Big Ten has pretty much proven his point. And sure, it hasn't always gone according to plan, but the united front has still been there.

    But as 2018 unfolded new words popped up along the way. A different message, but the same idea.

    "I think the talent out of the young guys right now," McSorley said after Citrus Bowl on Tuesday, "I don't want to put a ceiling on them because I really think they can go as far as they want to. It's going to be a matter of work ethic and buying into Coach Franklin and his program and those guys putting team before self and doing everything that they can to make this program, this team better."

    It might remind fans who listen closely to Franklin's postgame monologue following Penn State's loss to Ohio State. At the time it seemed somewhat out of place given the emotions of the loss, slightly irrelevant to the overall nature of the game. A hard sell to make to fans upset at another win-turned-loss against Ohio State.

    But there was truth to his message.

    “We lost by one point this year, we lose by one point last year. You make that up by the little things. By going to class consistently so the coaches don’t have to babysit you and we can spend our time developing you as men and as people and as players and not be babysitting everything," Franklin said. "And don’t get me wrong, our guys do a great job going to class but there’s two or three guys, it’s all the little things. It’s all the little things that are going to matter and we are going to find a way to get from being a great program – which we are – just so everybody is crystal clear, we are a great program."

    In the greater context Franklin's point is something that has been quietly reiterated throughout the year. Tuesday was not the first time McSorley has mentioned buying in, the Ohio State game was not the last time Franklin mentioned youth and younger players maturing. It hasn't always been the primary point, but both of them have said it time and time again.

    Going to class is less a message about actually going to class as it is a declaration that all of the little things make a difference. It's less about grades and more about details. It's less about two or three guys as it is getting 120 players to approach everything the same way. It's not the only reason Penn State came up short at times, but it's a foundation.

    A tall order to fix, but in many cases the difference between talented rosters turning into talented teams. The difference between skills receivers looking to sky because of another drop, and looking down the field for the next tackle to break, field goal to make, block to set, etc..

    So was it a problem all along?

    "I would say every team sort of has that area," Scott said on Tuesday, his collegiate career now over after a full five years. "You talk about going to class, things like that. It's usually the younger crowd that you have to bring a long. The sooner you can do that the more successful you can be. So yea it has been an ongoing theme, but I would argue that every team has something that they have to do. It's extremely hard to have 120 men all thinking the same and all be unselfish. That's everywhere. But obviously the fewer guys we have that are focused on them, the more successful we will be."

    And is it frustrating to deal with?

    "Frustrating? Maybe," Scott said. "Not extremely frustrating just because you know the people have got to grow. It can be frustrating when things sort of rear their head in a loss if you have examples of people being undisciplined. That can be frustrating. When i came in as a freshmen I had my hardships, I had my areas where I had to grow, so I'm more understanding of it. So my role on this team is to accelerate that process of people growing into unselfish roles."

    In truth it is difficult to say with any strong authority what exactly Penn State's locker room is like, but enough of the same words have been said for long enough outside of it to paint at least a faint outline of something the Nittany Lions will have to tackle in 2019 and beyond.

    And maybe the rope will make an appearance again.

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  9. #85
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    What We Learned From Penn State's "Down" Year

    James Franklin said this program is trying to become elite.

    A nine-win season is not elite. There's no debating that. The Nittany Lions came into this season with great expectations. Expectations, that admittedly, may have been too high.

    We knew Penn State needed to replace a lot on both sides of the ball. Eight defensive starters, the team's best receiving tight end of all time, the program's career leader in receptions, and the best player to ever put on the Blue and White all walked out the door. Penn State turned to a slew of freshman and first-time starters to fill the void, and all things considered, they performed admirably.

    Nine wins is the new floor for Penn State. With how well they've recruited, the quality of the players they already have, and all the resources at their disposal, anything fewer than that would seem like a lost season. So what can we take away from the first year of the Franklin era that felt like a "down" year?

    It all has to start with how much Trace McSorley rules. His production may have dipped (a lot of that wasn't his fault), but he meant more to the offense and the team as a whole than he ever had. After working with established stars like Barkley and Hamilton his entire career, he turned to more inexperienced, rising-stars like KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth, especially after some of the team's veterans continued to drop balls. He relied on those two so much, that the freshmen duo led the team in both catches and yards. It's hard to win with that formula, but more often than not, McSorley found a way. He also maybe just played a bowl game on a broken foot and that is incredible. By no means was he the most talented player to come through Penn State, but he'll go down as one of the most beloved.

    The second takeaway is that James Franklin has LOADED this roster with young talent. In the freshmen class alone, you not only have the aforementioned Freiermuth and Hamler, but you also have guys like Jahan Dotson. Heading for a redshirt at the beginning of the season, he took advantage of his four-game tryout and forced the staff to work him into the rotation. Then you have Justin Shorter. Despite appearing in just four games, he has the highest ceiling of all the young receivers and should be a dominant force in the years to come.

    Defensively, Micah Parsons lived up to even the highest of expectations set for him. He led the team in tackles as a backup, looked comfortable and confident at a new position, and was Penn State's best linebacker at times. If he can rack up 82 tackles coming off the bench, imagine what he can do as the unquestioned starter.

    The third takeaway is that James Franklin's staff is a living organism. This offseason featured the most turnover Penn State has had since James Franklin took over. Moorhead and Huff leaving for Mississippi State left Penn State without two coordinators and those units were relatively underwhelming with their new coaches in charge.

    Phil Galiano's special teams seemed to never learn from their mistakes. The fake punt disaster and the horrible punt coverage that led to a Kentucky touchdown may have been the last straw. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a job elsewhere in 2019.

    Ricky Rahne's situation is a bit different. Penn State's offense showed signs of life throughout the season, leading the nation in scoring through the first month. That Ohio State loss seemed to break Rahne's confidence as a play-caller that he never really got back. Rahne is a smart guy. He knows he needs to learn from the mistakes he made in his first season as a coordinator and show he won't make them again in 2019.

    But it was Josh Gattis' departure for Alabama that hurt the team the most. Gattis was quickly building a case for the nation's top receivers coach. Under his tutelage, Penn State's receivers routinely ran good routes, got open, but most importantly, they caught the ball. That can't be said for the unit under David Corley. Drops doomed the Nittany Lions all season and probably cost them some games. Some are on the receivers, but when the unit leads the Power 5 in drops, that's on the coaching. Like Galiano, I'm not confident he'll be on the sidelines next season.

    The last and probably the most important takeaway is that this team is set up for a special 2019 season. Sure you're losing Trace McSorley, but if there's one thing college football taught us this season, it's that you can win with an inexperienced signal-caller. Don't believe me? Five of the top six teams in the final College Football Playoff rankings are led by first-year starting quarterbacks.

    Whether it's Stevens or Clifford who leads the team onto the field against Idaho in nine months, they will be surrounded by all the pieces need to succeed.

    All five starters along the offensive line could return next season. Whoever the quarterback is, they will be throwing to the likes of Freiermuth, Hamler, Dotson, Shorter, George, Hippenhammer, and a potentially resurgent Juwan Johnson. It's hard to find a roster in the Big Ten and maybe even the country with that much talent.

    If Miles Sanders stays, that's fantastic. He was absolutely electric and lived up to his five-star billing in his first season as the starter. If he decides to try his luck in the NFL, Penn State has the horses to replace him. Ricky Slade is a star in the making. Journey Brown proved he belonged and the staff has praised his growth as much as anyone. CJ Holmes will be available after sitting out 2018 due to transfer rules, and there are plenty of reasons the former four-star had every team recruiting him out of high school. Then you have top-five backs Devyn Ford and Noah Cain coming in. Barkley and Sanders were great, but that could be the best overall running back room Penn State's had this millennium.

    Over on defense, you have just about everybody coming back. Yetur Gross-Matos will be on every preseason watch list. Shareef Miller could come back and try to boost his stock, but like Miles Sanders, I think his days with Penn State are over. Of course, if he came back I would attempt a backflip, but I could not be more excited to see what Shane Simmons, Jayson Oweh, and Shaka Toney are capable of in starter's snaps. No matter who starts, those four will give quarterbacks nightmares. Toney especially had a great 2018, very quietly tying the program's single-game sack record against Indiana and causing havoc in passing downs all season. At defensive tackle, you have everybody coming back. Hopefully, Ellison Jordan and Fred Hansard will be healthy for camp. They were both playing terrific and their return will give Penn State no fewer than five proven defensive tackles.

    I already gushed about Micah Parsons but Jan Johnson was no slouch. He was second the team with 72 tackles and the former walk-on did a fantastic job as the leader of the defense. With Cam Brown and Ellis Brooks both returning and five-star linebacker Brandon Smith and four-star Lance Dixon set to get to campus next week, Linebacker U is on it's way back.

    The secondary loses two starters but will bring back its two best players. John Reid looked like himself again late in the season after a rough start. Pairing him with Tariq Castro-Fields will give the Nittany Lions two lockdown corners. Garrett Taylor was terrific at safety and made losing Marcus Allen and Troy Apke seem much more manageable. The other safety spot will be the biggest question mark on defense but Lamont Wade has been waiting for his opportunity. Add in JUCO Jaquan Brisker, and there will be some healthy competition to make sure whoever ends up starting will have earned his spot.

    Even though they suffered a two-game dropoff from last season, the program is starting this offseason in a better spot than they did a year ago. Questions have been answered, experience has been gained, and groundwork has been laid. Becoming elite was never going to happen overnight. But despite the disappointment that 2018 was, it still brought the program closer to James Franklin's ultimate goal.

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  11. #86
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    Rat thanks for the time and effort with the PSU Forum. Great Job again this 2018 season. Have a fantastic off season get some rest and be ready for the Lions 2019 season with high expectations as you mention.

    and catch up with you in September..


    We are Penn State Go Lions.

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