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MMQB - Can Sean Clifford Return to His 2019 Form?

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Or are his best days behind him?

Outback Bowl - Arkansas v Penn State Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Sean Clifford will be back in 2022 as a 6th year senior, after taking advantage of the NCAA’s rule allowing players from the 2020 Covid-shortened season to gain an extra year of eligibility.

In 2021, Clifford looked like a man on a mission through the first 5.25 games of the season. The team was undefeated, and Sean looked quite comfortable in Mike Yurcich’s offense. Then he got injured against Iowa, and was never the same again. The offense - not unlike Clifford - became a shell of itself, struggling to put up points against every opponent.

Given that Penn State’s offense is not guaranteed to be very effective in 2022 - there are always roster turnovers, players switching positions, etc. - can Clifford return to his 2019 form?

As a reminder, in 2019 Sean completed 59.2% of his passes for 2,654 yards, 23 TDs and 7 INTs. He added in 116 rushes for 402 yards and an additional 5 TDs. Under his guidance, the Lions went 11-2, capping the season with a Cotton Bowl win over Memphis, and a top 10 ranking.

I’d like to think that Sean still has a high-quality season in him. Before his injury in 2021, he seemed quite comfortable with the offense, and when he was fully mobile he was able to pick apart teams with both his arms and legs. After his injury, he was very noticeably limited in the rushing game. Without the threat of a QB rush, teams adjusted and shut the Lions down.

For the first time in his career, Clifford will have the same offensive coordinator for two years in a row. Mike Yurcich returns at the helm, and should have a better understanding of what his players can and cannot do. Similarly, the offensive line should be a bit better in 2022, as Phil Trautwein gets another year with the team. Getting the OC and OL coach more in unison can only help the offense as a whole, and Sean Clifford specifically.

But what do you think? Is 2022 going to be a throwaway season while the team bides its time for Drew Allar to take over? Or can Sean Clifford go out on a high note for the Lions?