Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is expected to play Saturday against Rutgers after he absorbed a physical pounding in a 21-17 loss to Michigan.
Clifford was sacked seven times and knocked to the ground at least five other times by the Wolverines last weekend. He’s been sacked 18 times in the last four games while playing with an unannounced injury.
“I’m proud of Sean,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said. “Sean’s a competitor. He’s tough. He’s given everything he can to this program, to this university and to his teammates.
“He was beat up. He was getting hit too many times. I think we had five hits besides the sacks. I know he’s going to have a great week of practice this week, and I know he’ll do the same thing and play his tail off on Saturday.”
Clifford has completed 62.7% of his passes for 2,576 yards and 17 touchdowns with six interceptions. Despite playing under constant duress against Michigan, he was 23-for-43 for 205 yards and one touchdown. He also completed a 2-point conversion pass to Jahan Dotson.
Clifford missed almost the final three quarters of a 23-20 loss at Iowa last month after he suffered an injury while being knocked to the ground. He played with limited mobility in a 20-18 loss to Illinois in nine overtimes.
In three games since then, he’s completed 95-of-142 passes for 929 yards and five touchdowns with one interception despite the pass rush he’s faced and his injury.
“Sean’s special in that aspect,” punter Jordan Stout said. “You’d think after that (Michigan) game that he would be complaining in the locker room and he hasn’t at all.
“I even texted him and checked in on him, and he’s just as positive as ever. He says his body feels great. I think that’s unbelievable because I know it hurts.”
Senior Day cloudy: Penn State will celebrate Senior Day before its final home game Saturday, but no one seems to know how many players will be recognized.
Defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, safety Jaquan Brisker, running back John Lovett and wide receiver Benjamin Wilson are the only Lions whose eligibility expires after this season, so it will be their final home game.
Seniors such as Clifford, wide receiver Jahan Dotson, guard Eric Wilson, center Mike Miranda, defensive ends Arnold Ebiketie and Jesse Luketa, linebacker Ellis Brooks, safety Ji’Ayir Brown and kicker Jordan Stout can return. The NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic.
“Some guys may not walk with the intention of coming back,” Franklin said. “Some guys may walk and still haven’t made that decision yet. It’s very different. It’s hard to say right now.”
Penn State has received commitments from 25 high school seniors, many of whom will sign letters of intent in December. Their arrival might force the Lions to ask players to move on if they’re over the scholarship limit for 2022.
“It’s just kind of a mess,” Franklin said. “It’s really challenging. We’re going to make Senior Day special for these guys, but it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be for you guys (media members) to know who’s coming back and who’s not.”
Advice from opponents: Penn State offensive tackle Caedan Wallace received advice from two unlikely sources, Michigan defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.
Hutchinson and Ojabo combined for five of the Wolverines’ seven sacks against the Lions last weekend.
“We talked a little bit on the field right after the game,” Wallace said. “We talked a little over Snapchat. For me, at least, I like to learn and guys like David and Aidan are really good defensive ends, first-round guys. So just being able to learn and talk to them is extremely important.”
Wallace said he also spoke with Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison after the Buckeyes’ 33-24 win over Penn State last month.
“I’m pretty close to him,” Wallace said. “We just talked about technique. It’s just really important to know from their perspective what they are seeing in me that makes them do their moves.
“We all have a common goal. Even though they play D-end and I play offensive tackle, we still want to see each other do well, so we’ll always help each other.”
Source: Berkshire mont