Reviewing Penn State’s Record Breaking Football Season

Penn+State+Stadium%E2%80%99s+sign+pictured+above+during+spring+weather+in+May+2020.+

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Will

Penn State Stadium’s sign pictured above during spring weather in May 2020.

Joella Alvarez, Staff Writer

This year, college football has been pulled in many different directions, with some teams starting right when the normal season began back in September, to others starting later in the fall. Penn State was one of the teams to start later, with their first game on Oct. 24. 

Coming into the season, Penn State fans were excited about a great, new season. However, reality betrayed the expectations of fans. From the loss of vital players Journey Brown, Pat Freiermuth, and Micah Parsons, to questionable plays from the coaching staff, the Nittany Lions have been hit hard with numerous complications. The skyrocketing COVID-19 cases on campus didn’t make things any easier. The effects of these bled into the games the team has played this season. 

COVID has brought a lot of stress to coaches, players, and fans. Because of the pandemic, Big Ten football was delayed until mid-October, and throughout the season, multiple misdiagnosed cases of COVID-19 on the team resulted in canceled practices. The delay of the season combined with missed practices likely added to the teams worsening performance throughout games. 

Throughout this losing football season, fans of Penn State have started to point fingers at the coaching staff. 

“Much of what was wrong with this season, in my opinion, has to do with the coaching. James Franklin has been worried about the wrong stuff (COVID) and it has made the players unprepared for their games,” said Brian McWhiter, Penn State Alumni and long time fan of PSU football.

The coaching staff is the backbone of every football team, so it comes as no surprise that the coaching staff came under scrutiny when Penn State was on a losing streak. 

Freshman Jacob Stefanovich, an avid PSU football fan, expressed his annoyance in particular at the Ohio State game.

 “The Ohio State game was very frustrating because it was like the same play was being called every time. And the second half was better but still not too great,” Stefanovich said. He later expressed the same frustration with Penn State’s loss against Maryland. 

The Nittany Lions took another blow with the number of injuries among players, especially star players. Journey Brown and Noah Cain, the two main running backs for Penn State’s offense have been out for the majority of the season. Brown, the running back for 3 years, medically retired from football when he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during the offseason. Cain suffered from a left leg injury in overtime during the Indiana game. The loss of these players has put more pressure on the rest of the team. 

“It makes a significant difference … You know what that running back room was like before the season started, and it’s changed dramatically,” Head coach James Franklin said of the running back situation in a press conference.

This season hasn’t been an easy one for Penn State. An integral part of success for any team is unity. However, many team members have commented on the lack of unity among players. The disconnect stems from both racial tensions and the pandemic, which limits opportunities to build relationships and host events for players to connect.

“We’re not as one right now. We’re not a unit right now,” junior wide receiver Jahan Dotson said to DK Pittsburgh Sports

Penn State Football fans and players alike have felt the weight of the Nittany Lions’ losses. However, while Penn State had a rough start to the season, there remains a glimmer of hope, as PSU has been on a winning streak, winning their past four games. Fans continue to root for the Nittany Lions, still hoping for the best with future football games.

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