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MMQB - The Big Pass Plays are a Work in Progress

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Penn State has been just off in the deep ball game

Heather Weikel

In a game that saw the Lions score just 17 points, the deep ball was noticeably absent. That’s not to say they didn’t try - they just couldn’t connect.

At least two deep balls saw a receiver break free behind the defense, but were ultimately overthrown by Sean Clifford. Another one saw two Penn State receivers bunch up in the end zone and the ball ended up nearly intercepted.

Its not that they’re not trying the deep ball, it’s just that they can’t quite get there.

In the post game press conference, James Franklin admitted that they need to clean up their play. Specifically he mentioned that those deep balls need to be put to the outside, where only their receivers could get to it.

Always the leader, Clifford chimed in as well, saying “I need to get better, I missed my shots today, and that’s on me. . . . I need to have an enhanced focus during the week on shots. . . . You get used to hitting big plays [in practice] and I got a little comfortable, I just need to focus up. The explosive passes, I’m putting that on myself, nobody else, I need to get better.”

KJ Hamler has some additional comments on the deep balls. “I think we could have capitalized as an offense way more, a lot of shots we missed, a lot of plays we missed.” When asked if missing those deep shots surprised him, three games in, KJ added “yeah a little bit, we go over a lot of those in practice, me and Cliff throw extra after practice, we just gotta hit them, that’s all I can say. We missed them today, so it’s just stuff we gotta hit.”

The good news for fans is that the coaching staff and the players have both identified that the deep pass needs to improve, and it will assuredly be addressed over the bye week. Clifford did not seem very pleased with his play, though I’d argue that neither the line nor his receivers gave him as much help as he could have used.

In any case, the Lions want to get the deep ball back into their repertoire. It will just be a matter of time to determine if they can actually get it done.