Penn State football: What should Penn State do at quarterback?

Being the starting quarterback for Penn State football can be the best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world. When things are going well, you’re praised like a god, and girls would probably faint if you did so much as just look their way. But when things aren’t going so smoothly, you have thousands of fans across the country calling for your job. What makes Nittany Lion fans so special is how passionate they are for their team, so when they’re not happy, they let you hear it.

With Penn State starting the season 0-3, Sean Clifford has dealt with a lot of criticism. From coaches to the media and probably even some overweight grown men that swear they could play the position better if given the chance, he’s been under a microscope after the team’s worst start since 2001.

Clifford has completed 56% of his passes and has turned the ball over six times in the first three games. His accuracy and poor decision making major issues, and those were exploited in the loss to Maryland this past week. As the saying goes, ball security is job security, and now his starting spot is in jeopardy.

Clifford started in 12 of 13 games last year going 10-2 in that span including a win over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl. With one full year of starting experience under his belt and a new offensive coordinator on his sideline, I expected this to be a breakout season for him. Clearly, that has been far from the case, but does Penn State have a better option to lead the offense? Here’s a look at Clifford’s possible replacements if the team decides to go that direction.

Will Levis

Levis has the next most experience in the quarterback room. He’s a strong, physical runner who can be utilized in many ways in the offense, but I’m tentative to call him a starting quarterback. Levis has one career start where he took over for an injured Clifford in Week 12 against Rutgers last season. It was a quiet game through the air as he threw for just 81 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he showed what he can do on the ground as he picked up 108 yards on 17 rushes in the 27-6 win.

Ta’Quan Roberson

The redshirt freshman is talented, but you’d only know that because of practice and high school highlight tapes. Roberson has only appeared in one game and didn’t have an opportunity to get quality reps. He only threw the ball once at the tail end of the game right before Penn State could kneel the clock out. However, Roberson is better suited to take the snaps because he is a better thrower than Levis.

Micah Bowens

Bowens is a true freshman and was a standout at national powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nevada before coming to Penn State football. He shined in high school, but with a shortened offseason and more experienced guys ahead of him, I doubt you see Bowens on the field this fall.

My Prediction

Although Clifford has been hard to watch through the first few weeks, I don’t think the coaches are convinced there’s a better option. All three backups are inexperienced and have limited reps with the starters in practice. At 0-3, I think you give Clifford one more chance on a very short leash. If he disappoints, you have nothing to lose but to give anyone else a shot. It can’t be worse, right? If James Franklin decides to pull the trigger and bench Clifford, I expect it to be Levis that gets the initial nod to take over the offense.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

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