Depending on when you turned on Penn State’s game against Wisconsin on Saturday, you may think Sean Clifford either had a horrendous game or that he’s well on his way to the Davey O’Brien Award.
Clifford finished the contest a solid if unspectacular 18 of 33 for 247 yards and one touchdown. Of those yards, only 43 came in the first half, with 204 and the lone touchdown coming after the break. Of note, Clifford did not turn the ball over in the game, something that can’t be said for Wisconsin signal caller Graham Mertz, a fact that likely decided the outcome.
The final stat line for Clifford is largely indicative of what he seems to be as a college quarterback. Not quite a game-changer, but more than a game manager. A player that will wow you one play and make you pull your hair out the next. The reality is, Penn State fans need to learn to live with that fact. Because as long as Clifford is healthy, he’s going to be the Penn State quarterback this year. And maybe even next year!
Early calls for Ta’Quan Roberson fell on deaf ears in the first half on Saturday. Probably rightfully so. The backup quarterback is always judged on what he could be. Why take the boat when you could have the mystery box? The mystery box could be anything, even a boat!
Roberson may well be the future of Penn State football. And for all anyone outside the program knows, he could be a game-changing player just waiting in the wings. But those inside the program, who see Clifford and Roberson in practice every day, seem pretty dead set on starting the fifth-year QB who is in his third year starting and helped lead the team to 11 wins and a Cotton Bowl victory in 2019.
For his career in blue and white, Clifford has now made 22 starts. He’s averaging 217 yards through the air and an additional 34 yards per game on the ground. He’s amassed 48 total touchdowns against just 16 interceptions, and he’s led Penn State to a 15-7 record in that time. There’s a good chance that when his time is done in Happy Valley, Clifford will wind up either first or second in program history in passing touchdowns.
So while fans hem and haw on their opinions of him, often justifiably, the truth is it doesn’t really matter, because Clifford is going nowhere. The only thing to do now is to strap in and get ready for the ride, because whether it’s enjoyable or it’s a disaster, it’s what you’re going to get.