COLLEGE FOOTBALL: 2021 PENN STATE FOOTBALL CAPSULE

HEAD COACH: James Franklin

RECORD AT SCHOOL: 60 – 38

CAREER RECORD: 84 – 43

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Mike Yurcich

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Brent Pry, Anthony Poindexter

RETURNING STARTERS:

OFFENSE: 7

DEFENSE: 7

KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:

S Jaquan Brisker

QB Sean Clifford

WR Jahan Dotson

KEY LOSSES:

TE Pat Freiermuth

C Michal Menet

DE Shaka Toney

2020 RESULTS:

Indiana 35 – 36 OT

Ohio State 25 – 38

Maryland 19 – 35

at Nebraska 23 – 30

Iowa 21 – 41

at Michigan 27 – 17

At Rutgers 23 – 7

Michigan State 39 – 24

Illinois 56 – 21

2021 SCHEDULE

September 4 at Wisconsin

September 11 Ball State

September 18 Auburn

September 25 Villanova

October 2 Indiana

October 9 at Iowa

October 23 Illinois

October 30 at Ohio State

November 6 that Maryland

November 13 Michigan

November 20 Rutgers

November 27 at Michigan State

2020 BIG 10 RANKINGS:

OFFENSE:

SCORING: 29.8 (3)

RUSHING: 174.3 (5).

PASSING: 256.0 (4)

TOTAL OFFENSE: 430.3 (2)

DEFENSE:

SCORING: 27.7 (6)

RUSHING: 130.2 (4)

PASSING: 198.6 (2)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 328.8 (3)

TURNOVER MARGIN: 0.78 (11)

FIELD POSITION:

OFFENSE: 29.4

DEFENSE: 32.7

EFFICIENCY:

OFFENSE: 43.3%

DEFENSE: 41.3%

EXPLOSIVENESS:

OFFENSE: 5.5

DEFENSE: 5.1

FINISHING DRIVES:

OFFENSE: 4.1

DEFENSE: 4.2

ADJUSTED TURNOVER MARGIN:

PROJECTED: -2.2

ACTUAL: -8

2020 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

PASSING: Sean Clifford,, 251 attempts, 1883 yards, 16TD, 9INT

RUSHING: Keyvone Lee, 89 attempts, 438 yards, 4.9 average, 4TD

RECEIVING: Jahan Dotson, 52 receptions, 884 yards, 17.0 average 8TD

TACKLES: Ellis Brooks, 60

SACKS: Shaka Toney 5.0

INTERCEPTIONS: 4 players, tied with 1

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:

Penn State did not adjust well to the pandemic losing their first five games and many felt they were poorly coached during those five losses. Hiring a new offensive coordinator could help with more hands on philosophy. They have death at running back and playmaker is at wide receiver. Defensively, they are talented with seven starters returning, but only one starter on the line. This could be a fascinating team to watch as coach Franklin will try to convince the fan base that last year was an anomaly.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

James Franklin suffered his first losing season at Penn State, but winning their final four games last season should give this team plenty of momentum heading into the 2021 campaign. Hiring a new offensive coordinator should make this offense even better, with the running game being the key again this season. Penn State finished second in the Big Ten in total offense last season, so it isn’t like they will be starting from scratch. They must find a way to stop turning over the football, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in giveaways. Quarterback Sean Clifford also threw nine interceptions, tied for the most in the conference.

Clifford will have several options to throw to including Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington. He will also had two very talented tight end in Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson.

They are deep at running back returning Keynone Lee, Devyn Ford and Caziah Holmes. Noah Cain will also be in the mix after suffering a season – end ending foot injury in last year’s opener.

Three starters return on the line.

The biggest question mark on defense will be the front seven. They return just one starter on the line and had to enter the transfer portal to beef up their numbers. They have little proven depth on the edge and that is a huge concern.

There also question marks at linebacker despite all three starters returning. The coaching staff felt it necessary to shake things up during the spring moving Jesse Luketa moving inside. He will most likely share the spot with returning started Ellis Brooks. Luketa was second on the team in tackles with 59, but the coaching staff feels he is better suited in the middle. Brandon Smith will now move outside opening a spot for Curtis Jacobs, who played in eight games as a true freshman last season.

The secondary should be solid with cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields and safety Jaquin Brisker returning. Brisker was solid at the end of the season, finishing third on the team in tackles with 57.

Penn State can be a good football team as long as Clifford doesn’t give up the football. Changing offensive coordinators can be difficult, but coach Franklin was willing to make a bold move in pursuit of a Big Ten championship and a possible playoff spot.