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Midweek Musings - What Should Penn State Do at Quarterback?

It’s a conundrum

Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sean Clifford was pulled in the middle of the Nebraska game, after a less than stellar first few games in 2020, and Will Levis came in to replace him.

MWM asks - what should Penn State do at quarterback?

The kneejerk reaction is to keep Clifford out, as he has not shown the ability to play well enough in 2020, and go with Levis instead.

Is that wise?

Clifford led Penn State to an 11-2 record in 2019, including a Cotton Bowl win. He has shown his competitiveness, and ability to make plays time and again. He also appears to be the best quarterback on the roster, as the coaches (I have to believe) would have benched him sooner if Levis (or Roberson) had outperformed him in practice.

Still, Sean has had a poor 2020 campaign. Whether that has to do with a new offensive scheme, a lack of chemistry with receivers, or losing the top two running backs is unknown. Likely some combination of all of the above.

It’s also possible that the competitor got smacked in the mouth by the Indiana and OSU losses, tried to put the whole team on his back, and the Maryland loss (and Nebraska game until the time of being pulled) was just a result of someone trying to do too much. Permanently benching someone like that could have long term mental ramifications.

Perhaps it would be better to let him cool his jets for the remainder of the Nebraska game, but let him get back to it against Iowa? Maybe take off Iowa as well, and resume the season against Michigan if there’s still no clear answer at QB by that point?

For me, I think Levis is the right call against Iowa, and quite possibly the rest of 2020.

Will has shown immense arm strength, decisiveness in the read game, and has the size at 6’3” and 222 lbs to be a major factor in the run game. When the offense looked listless against Nebraska, Levis came in and provided a spark that hasn’t been seen most of - if not all of - the season.

The biggest complaint against Will is the passing game, where he appears to be somewhat inaccurate, or rifles passes when a bit more touch would do. I’d like to chalk that up to being the scout team QB for the last 2 years more than anything else, but it’s possible Penn State will just have to ride out his inaccuracy, and trade off the benefit to the run game as a wash.

Hopefully, Levis has been named the starter behind the Lasch Building doors. Hopefully, he’s getting starter reps with the offense, and getting a chance to work on chemistry with the receivers. Hopefully this hasn’t shattered Clifford’s confidence permanently.

Because if Will Levis isn’t the answer, Penn State may not win a single game in 2020.