Report Card: Grading Penn State’s Outback Bowl loss to Arkansas

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  • Sean Clifford
    QB, Penn State University

Despite the Penn State loss, there are still some positives to take out of this game.

Penn State was a little bit shaken to start the game, but the first half was strong and the game was kept close. However, that wasn’t necessarily the case in the second half.

Let’s take a more in-depth look and grade the performance of Penn State‘s loss to the Razorbacks.

Quarterbacks: C-

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Sure, there were flashes of athleticism, but Sean Clifford struggled for much of this game. There were times where he was panicking under deep pressure and it came back to hurt them at times. Clifford recently announced his decision to return for sixth season in Happy Valley.

Clifford was later benched for freshman quarterback Christian Veilleux, who last played November 20 against Rutgers, where his debut was nothing short of impressive.

Next: Running Backs

Running Backs: C

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Clifford was the top rusher for Penn State, with just 46 yards on 12 attempts. The Nittany Lions really couldn’t get anything going on the ground. This has always been a major issue of theirs The entire season, even playing non-competitive opponents like Villanova earlier in the year. We saw a variety of players get involved in the run game today, but it wasn’t enough to get the ball moving efficiently.

Next: Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers: B

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Not having Jahan Dotson didn’t seem to bother Penn State too much to start out the game. However, much of the second half was all Arkansas in Penn State started to look gassed as the second half went on.

Parker Washington was the player to watch for today in Dotson’s absence, and he got involved early, including a one-handed catch in the second quarter.

We also saw a wide-open touchdown catch from KeAndre Lambert-Smith in the second quarter.

Next: Defense

Defense: B-

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As mentioned, the defense lost several key players leading up to this game. But, that didn’t affect them too much to start out the game.

Brown had an impressive game to finish off his season, including two interceptions in the first half.

With Arnold Ebiketie being one of the players who opted out for Penn State, another veteran in Jesse Luketa stepped up today.

However, Penn State still struggled to stop the run, allowing over 100 yards rushing from Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson.

Next: Special Teams

Special Teams: C-

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The special teams struggled today and there were two plays that stood out. The first one being a missed field goal. Franklin had mentioned giving Jordan Stout a bit of a break because he had been doing everything for the special teams for Penn State this season. Jake Pinegar missed a field goal in the first quarter that wasn’t even close.

The other questionable call was the fake punt that resulted in Stout lofting the ball in the air.

Overall, this was a struggling game for the special teams this afternoon for Penn State.

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