Penn State Nittany Lions will have an interesting year this coming season. With a solid defense and a fresh offense, predictions are all over the place; as we know, nothing comes easy in the Big Ten East Division. With both 3 year starter, Trace McSorley, and former expected starter, Tommy Stevens, no longer being around, sophomore QB Sean Clifford is next in line. With limited exposure thus far, Clifford’s stats are compelling. On 7 attempts, 5 were completed along with 2 touchdowns. That is a 71.4% completion rating for 195 yards.
Kj Hamler and Jahan Dotson are the only returning wideouts with notable experience for the Nittany Lions this season. Kj brought in 42 receptions for 754 yards while Dotson was good for 13 receptions and 203 yards.
Regarding the running back position, Ricky Slade is the scheduled starter and primary ball carrier, but he has not necessarily secured that position. There is much room for adjustments with the two skilled backups, Journey Brown and Notre Dame transfer C.J. Holmes. Slade has the most experience with the Lions, but only for 45 carries last year. With Brown’s speed and explosiveness he could eventually improve his role in the backfield. 4-star recruit Holmes hasn’t been able to prove himself playing behind Josh Adams, so we will see how he is used at Penn State.
The defense is a different story this year at Penn State, most likely will be their stronger side this year with less spots to fill than the offense. Their strong assets are at the defensive end, defensive tackle, linebackers, and corners. As threats to quarterbacks, Yetur Gross-Matos and Robert Windsor are looking to punish behind the line once again. Last year, the two combined for 15.5 sacks and many tackles for losses. At the linebacker positions, Micah Parsons, Cam Brown, and Jan Johnson will be respected as a great squad and make offenses act accordingly – all three of them are expected to show out big-time this year.
Last year with finishing top 10 in pass efficiency, similar numbers are expected this year again. Veteran secondaries John Reid and Garrett Taylor will be the studs while Tariq Castro-Fields is expected to join the starting lineup at cornerback with the second safety spot still up for grabs. That empty safety spot will be fulfilled with either Jonathan Sutherland and Lamont Wade. Overall, the defense is the strong half for the Lions and we like the over 8.5 wins this year.