Penn State Goals for Consistency in 2021 | Sports activities
After a controversial overtime loss in Indiana, the Nittany Lions stumbled onto a 0-5 start that included home losses to Maryland and Iowa. But Penn State responded with four straight wins to end the season, starting with a win in Michigan. In December, Penn State looked like the team everyone expected to come out of the gates in late October.
Hopefully Penn State can take that momentum with it into the late season into 2021. Seven starters return on the offensive, including starting quarterback Sean Clifford (1,883 yards, 16 TD, nine interceptions) and star wide receiver / kick returner Jahan Dotson (52 catches, 844th). Yards, eight TDs). Penn State Coach James Franklin fired offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca at the end of the season and replaced him with Texan offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
On defense, Penn State are returning seven starters, but the top seven remains a question mark. Junior tackle PJ Mustipher is the only starter to return to the defensive while Jesse Luketa has been moved to the middle linebacker. Run defense was at times a problem last season without star linebacker Micah Parsons, who decided to skip the 2020 season and was inducted into the first round of the NFL draft (12th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys.
Here’s an early look at Penn State heading into the 2021 season:
WHAT YOU’VE LOST
After setting a school record with 16 TD catches and catching 23 passes for 310 yards and one TD last year, tight end Pat Freiermuth decided to take part in the NFL Draft, where he was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round. Defensive end Shaka Toney, who booked 20.5 career sacks in 47 career games for the Nittany Lions, also took part in the NFL Draft and was selected in the seventh round by the Washington Football team. Center Michael Menet, who made 34 career starts and received All-Big-Ten awards as a junior and senior, will be hard to replace on the offensive.
Cornerback Kalen King, a four-star January newcomer from Detroit, Michigan, could step in and start secondary school right away. Derrick Tangelo, a senior transfer from Duke, and Arnold Ebiketie, a junior transfer from Temple, will fill holes in the defensive line. Transfer running back John Lovett, who rushed into Baylor for 1,803 yards and 17 TDs, will fight for carries.
OUTLOOK FOR 2021
This is an important eighth season for Franklin. Penn State expects to compete in the Big Ten title hunt each season, but with programs like Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers recruiting better, winning the Big Ten East is no longer easy. The Nittany Lions must have the right focus and avoid mental mistakes each week in order to achieve their championship goals. If Clifford can reduce his mistakes and the defenses get together, Penn State could return to elite status faster than people think.