James Franklin and the rest of the Penn State football team didn’t mince words following their ugly loss to Maryland Saturday.
After suffering three straight losses, it’s clear Penn State is in a dire situation. The Nittany Lions are not a great football team right now, and they know it.
“It’s very apparent what kind of football team we are,” Sean Clifford said after the game. “We’re an 0-3, poor performing football team right now, and we need to change that.”
Clifford said that he’s never been on an 0-3 football team before, and he’s simply just “pissed.” The quarterback took full accountability for the offense’s lack of production, clarifying that he wouldn’t be pointing fingers at anyone.
“I’ve never lost like this in my life,” he added.
Clifford finished an abysmal 27-for-57, throwing for three touchdowns and two interceptions. He passed for 340 yards, but Penn State’s offense was only able to come up with 19 points on the night.
Beyond the issues on the field, wide receiver Jahan Dotson very bluntly called out some issues in the locker room. Since Dotson is typically a soft-spoken leader, his harsh words definitely carried a bit more weight.
“We’re not as one right now, we’re not a unit right now,” Dotson said. “There’s distractions that we shouldn’t be focused on right now. We’ve got to be focused on getting in the win column, nothing else.”
It’s not clear exactly what these distractions could be for the team. Obviously with the pandemic and election, there’s lots of things other than football that guys could be focused on.
Clifford was asked about Dotson’s statements and generally agreed the team has a lot to work out moving forward. Although he didn’t want to comment on the emotional nature of the locker room, he acknowledged that things aren’t quite right.
“To Jahan’s point, yeah, it’s the little things. We gotta do every little thing right,” Clifford said. “We’re not doing that, it’s all across the board. It starts with me, but we gotta clean it up. We can’t lose this many games, we can’t start the way we did — there’s just so many things we need to clean up.”
Like many Penn State fans and players alike, no one’s really sure where to start following such a miserable loss. Franklin said after the game that preparedness likely wasn’t a factor in the loss.
“During the week I felt like we did the things necessary to come out and play well,” Franklin said. “There weren’t signs of a [lack of preparedness].”
Although Dotson spoke about the team’s struggles, he also touched on what they need to do moving forward.
“We’ve gotta come together as a team, as an offense, and we just gotta trust each other,” Dotson explained. “We kinda have guys just doing there own things sometimes, and we just gotta come together and work as a unit, literally, practice every single day. We just gotta put our head down and work, and just trust your brother.”
Clifford also talked about the trust factor, specifically with his offensive line.
“They’re giving it everything they’ve got, and I’ve gotta trust them,” he said. “Somebody’s gonna miss a block, it’s gotta happen, I can’t get gun-shy… if somebody misses a block, that doesn’t mean on the next down everyone’s not gonna do their job.
“We’ve got guys that love and trust me, and I gotta trust them play in and play out,” Clifford added.