After losses to Indiana and Ohio State, the disaster season continues for Penn State as the Nittany Lions got blown out by Maryland 35-19.
Let’s be clear from the start: Maryland is not a good team. This is not me trying to troll. They played incredibly well today, and credit to them for what has to be their most satisfying victory in some time. But the Terrapins are a mediocre team, and yet, Penn State got absolutely worked by them. The Nittany Lions — from James Franklin as the head coach to Sean Clifford as the quarterback — got absolutely out-coached and outplayed against a team that it should never happen against.
The excuses of no Micah Parsons, no Journey Brown, and no Noah Cain can’t and won’t be accepted. As a program, Penn State is at the level where this should not be happening. But it did. Whose fault is it? Well, there’s blame to go around. James Franklin, as the head coach, has failed this team. Sean Clifford, as the quarterback, has failed this team. You could insert any coach or any player into those sentences, and you would be correct: this is a total failure on all fronts.
This is Penn State’s first 0-3 start since 2004; a year that is known as a part of the “Dark Years.” Sure, the Nittany Lions were without non-conference games to pad their record this season, but starting the season with Indiana and Maryland in two of the first three games should never equate to an 0-3 start. Never.
The Nittany Lions have six games left on their schedule. This is, unfortunately, not hyperbole when I say it: there are no automatic victories. In fact, if Penn State plays the rest of the season like they played today, it will be winless season.
Of course, I don’t believe that will be the case. Penn State is capable of more than this. But the fact we have seen that this level of abhorrent play is possible — well, anything is possible.
James Franklin has accomplished a ton here in State College. He took over a sanctioned-ridden program, and in three season, won them a Big Ten championship. He added two 11-win seasons in the years after, and a pair of New Years Six’s bowl game victory to boot. He is a good coach. We have cold, hard proof of it. But an 0-3 start shouldn’t be excused, and if this doesn’t get turned around in the coming weeks, questions about his job will be valid.