Sean Clifford Passing Chart (Indiana): Clifford Takes a Back Seat to the Penn State Rushing Attack

By Nick Polak on November 19, 2019 at 10:30 am
Nov 16, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) looks to throw a pass while Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Jamar Johnson (22) defends during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
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Welcome back to the Sean Clifford passing chart. Each week we'll show you Clifford's chart from the most recent game, as well as his cumulative stats for the season. There may be a few differences here and there from the stat lines you see on ESPN, Sports Reference, or elsewhere, but we'll try to make sure to explain each of those differences below. Distances on the far left denote how many yards the ball traveled in the air.


For the first time in 2019, the Penn State offense was led by the rushing attack. Though Clifford made some clutch throws when he needed to, this wasn't his best performance. As he did a week ago, he started slowly with three incompletions (with only one that was almost catchable). He found more success as the day went on, and if anything, this game was unique in that he didn't attack any a level of the defense (distance-wise) more so than any other.

Clifford Passing Chart (Indiana)
  LEFT MIDDLE RIGHT TOTALS
20+ YARDS 0/1
-
-
-
0/1
-
-
-
1/2
41 yds
-
-
1/4
41 yds
-
-
10-19 YARDS 0/0
-
-
-
3/4
48 yds
TD
-
0/0
-
-
-
3/4
48 yds
TD
-
0-9 YARDS 1/3
6 yds
-
-
1/2
9 yds
-
-
2/2
26 yds
-
-
4/7
41 yds
-
-
BEHIND L.O.S. 0/1
-
-
-
0/0
-
-
-
3/4
49 yds
-
-
3/5
49 yds
-
-
TOTALS 1/5
6 yds
-
-
4/7
57 yds
TD
-
6/8
116 yds
-
-
11/23
179 yds
TD
-
3 throwaways
  • 3-man rush: 1/1, 6 yards
  • 4-man rush: 0/6, 0 yards, 1 throwaway
  • 5-man rush: 7/9, 104 yards, TD, 1 throwaway
  • 6+ man rush: 3/7, 69 yards, 1 throwaway
  • 1st Down: 3/6, 72 yards
  • 2nd Down: 3/9, 48 yards, TD, 2 throwaways
  • 3rd Down: 5/8, 59 yards, 1 throwaway

**ADJUSTED COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 55%

The Positives

One thing that really impressed me from Clifford coming out of the bye a week ago was how much better he was at looking for plays down the field after the pocket had broken down. Earlier in the season, when the young quarterback felt pressured, more often than not, he simply took off with the ball. Against Minnesota, we saw him make a conscious effort to elude pressure, reset his feet, and make throws down the field (which he did on multiple occasions). He also showed an ability to use his rushing reputation to his advantage, by uncorking passes right around the line of scrimmage to receivers left open thanks to the threat of his legs. We saw such a play on the touchdown pass to Nick Bowers.

The threat of Clifford taking off draws Khalil Bryant (#29) in just a step, which is more than enough to create the throwing lane for the quarterback to hit Bowers down the middle for the score. It was *chef's kiss*.

And as is quickly becoming a trend, Clifford made yet another "I'm sorry, he did what?" play when he took the snap from center Michal Menet, took the ball down for a quick dribble, then hit Pat Freiermuth who proceeded to bulldoze his way to a first down.

The Negatives

Franklin alluded to as much in his quick post-game interview, but Clifford is certainly not fully healthy. He took an absolute beating in the Minnesota game and looked less than 100% against Indiana. It's hard to figure out how much of his performance to pin on said undisclosed injuries, but he certainly wasn't as sharp as he's been.

There weren't any interceptions of disastrous decisions, he just simply missed on several throws. As per usual, his misses most commonly can be chalked up to overthrows, but he did have another underthrow I'd like to point out.

Honestly, the fact that this wasn't completed is not a huge deal, as Indiana read the play pretty well anyway. Still, this type of pass has not been Clifford's specialty this season. I won't pretend to understand why, but it's worth wondering if that's a reason why we don't see more bubble screens to Hamler and Dotson.

It's also worth noting how different the offense looked at times without Hamler on the field. Perhaps the lack of its superstar is what led the Penn State offense to ground-and-pound its way to victory, but if Hamler is unable to go against Ohio State, they'll need to find ways to create big plays down the field anyway.

Incompletion Stats
  • 5 overthrows
  • 1 underthrow
  • 2 wide throws
  • 1 broken up pass
  • 3 throwaways
Clifford Passing Chart (Season)
  LEFT MIDDLE RIGHT TOTALS
20+ YARDS 5/18
152 yds
2 TD, 3 INT
2 drops
3/15
125 yds
2 TD, 2 INT
3 drops
5/15
186 yds
3 TD
1 drop
13/48
463 yds
7 TD, 5 INT
6 drops
10-19 YARDS 7/14
127 yds
-
1 drop
1 batted pass
17/33
328 yds
4 TD
7 drops
12/17
281 yds
4 TD, INT
2 drops
36/64
736 yds
8 TD, INT
10 drops
1 batted pass
0-9 YARDS 30/44
316 yds
TD
3 drops
1 batted pass
15/23
283 yds
TD
2 drops
2 batted passes
36/43
426 yds
3 TD
5 drops
81/110
1,025 yds
5 TD
10 drops
3 batted passes
BEHIND L.O.S. 23/27
134 yds
2 TD
1 drop
2 batted passes
4/5
-7 yds
-
-
10/16
101 yds
-
2 drops
37/48
228 yds
2 TD
3 drops
2 batted passes
TOTALS 65/103
729 yds
5 TD, 3 INT
7 drops
4 batted passes
39/76
729 yds
7 TD, 2 INT
12 drops
2 batted passes
63/91
994 yds
10 TD, INT
10 drops
167/282
2,452 yds
22 TD, 6 INT
29 drops
6 batted passes
12 throwaways
  • 2-man rush: 1/1, 9 yards
  • 3-man rush: 6/9, 41 yards, INT, 1 drop, 1 throwaway
  • 4-man rush: 82/155, 1,195 yards, 10 TD, 4 INT, 17 drops, 3 batted passes, 6 throwaways
  • 5-man rush: 50/73, 663 yards, 6 TD, 5 drops, 3 batted passes, 3 throwaways
  • 6+ man rush: 28/44, 544 yards, 6 TD, INT, 5 drops, 2 throwaways
  • 1st Down: 71/114, 1,129 yards, 11 TD, 3 INT, 12 drops, 1 batted pass, 4 throwaways
  • 2nd Down: 53/91, 696 yards, 6 TD, 7 drops, 4 batted passes, 6 throwaways
  • 3rd Down: 41/73, 590 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT, 9 drops, 1 batted pass, 2 throwaways
  • 4th Down: 2/4, 37 yards, 1 TD

**ADJUSTED COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 75.1%

**Adjusted Completion Percentage Explanation

Being that the idea of this is to find out how accurate Clifford actually is, his adjusted completion percentage is calculated by removing some externals. The formula is as follows:

Adjusted Completion Percentage = (Completions + Drops) / (Pass Attempts - Spikes - Throwaways - Batted Balls - Balls disrupted by a QB hit)

Batted balls are omitted because this is a judgment of accuracy, not quarterbacking ability as a whole.

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