Well, folks, welcome to the Great Depression.
This could, of course, refer to the current status of the PSSE as well as the feeling I get every time I see a football go flying four yards over the head of a Penn State wide receiver or tight end.
This week’s edition of the stock report is, by far, the ugliest yet since we’ve began. Following last week’s embarrassing loss to Maryland, the market is at its lowest point in James Franklin’s tenure and its lowest since “it” happened in 2011.
With that said, let’s dig in to those stocks.
1. Parker Washington and Taylor Stubblefield
There’s only one unit this season that has been the least bit impressive, and it falls under the purview of new wide receiver coach Taylor Stubblefield. Many concerns were raised about Stubblefield’s hiring when it was may, but the early returns are nothing but positive. Stubblefield is already off to a great start recruiting the 2022 class, with commitments from Kaden Saunders and Anthony Ivey, and his wide receivers have performed well on the field. Jahan Dotson has taken a big step forward, KeAndre Lambert-Smith looks promising, and perhaps most impressive has been Parker Washington. The freshman from Texas made eight catches for 70 yards, including a pair of touchdown grabs against the Terps. He may well have had a third as well if Sean Clifford had been able to deliver on a slot fade in the first quarter.
1. Sean Clifford
And now the bad news. And trust us, there is plenty of it. The stats don’t tell the story for Clifford, who finished the game with 340 yards and three touchdowns. But he a large part of why Penn State was never really in this one from the jump. Clifford’s accuracy issues are glaring at this point. Kirk Ciarrocca schemed open receivers time and time again in the first half only for Clifford to overthrow the intended target by yards. He has no feel for the pocket and his fumble in the third quarter pretty much killed any hopes of a comeback before they could start. At this point, I’m not sure how you don’t give Ta’quan Roberson or even Will Levis a shot.
2. James Franklin
Penn State is in a very weird spot with James Franklin. Even ignoring the pandemic and resulting financial crunch that makes a coaching search a terrifying prospect, Franklin seems to have hit his ceiling at PSU. It’s been a very good ceiling, giving the program some of its most-sustained success in decades, but where do you go from here? Franklin has won too much and is probably too good to fire right now, and the odds you get a better replacement aren’t exactly great. But there has to be some sort of major shakeup, right? The on-field product is bested (worsted?) only by the insanely poor 2021 recruiting efforts, which currently have the Nittany Lions landing zero of the top-10 ranked players in a very strong Pennsylvania class. I have no clue what the issue is, but it needs to be solved very, very quickly.
3. Brent Pry
So about that major shakeup. Maybe this is the one. I like Brent Pry. I think he’s a good to very good defensive coordinator. But he’s reached his “sell by” date at Penn State. His defenses repeatedly have the same issues in coverage and with tackling. They’re constantly confused on the back end, and of late they’ve been extremely undisciplined. If things don’t turn around quickly, it may be time for Penn State to look for a new defensive coordinator and one that can be more of an asset on the recruiting trail. And on that final note, if he’s not going to recruit well, what exactly does Terry Smith do? As his defensive backs were being absolutely ripped apart on Saturday afternoon, Smith saw Derrick Davis Jr., who he’s mentored for over a decade, commit to LSU over the Nittany Lions. I mean, if we can’t win that recruiting battle, why should anyone believe that Penn State is capable of locking down in-state talent elsewhere? Again, the solutions to Penn State’s problems may not be as simple as shuffling deck chairs, but right now the Titanic is sinking and it sure seems like everyone is Lasch is just standing around playing violins.