Sean Clifford Passing Chart (Indiana): Untimely Interceptions Spoil Clifford's Week One Performance

By Nick Polak on October 27, 2020 at 9:00 am
Oct 24, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) slides to avoid tackle during the second half of the game at Memorial Stadium. The Indiana Hoosiers defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 36 to 35.
Marc Lebryk-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.


I won't lie, when I started rewatching this game to track Clifford's throws, I was expecting a lot worse. That tends to happen when the two most notable throws from a game are two bad interceptions. Aside from those misfires, though, the Ohio native was much better than I realized the first time around. Let's get into the chart.

Clifford Passing Chart (Indiana)
  LEFT MIDDLE RIGHT TOTALS
20+ YARDS -
-
-
-
1/1
60 yds
TD
-
1/1
21 yds
-
-
2/2
81 yds
TD
-
10-19 YARDS 1/1
15 yds
-
-
1/5
16 yds
INT
1 drop
1 batted pass
2/3
27 yds
-
-
4/9
58 yds
INT
1 drop
1 batted pass
0-9 YARDS 5/5
26 yds
-
-
3/4
26 yds
TD
1 drop
2/5
18 yds
TD, INT
-
10/14
70 yds
2 TD, INT
1 drop
BEHIND L.O.S. 4/4
20 yds
-
-
1/1
4 yds
-
-
3/3
5 yds
-
-
8/8
29 yds
-
-
TOTALS 10/10
61 yds
-
-
-
6/11
106 yds
2 TD, INT
2 drops
1 batted pass
8/12
71 yds
TD, INT
1 drop
24/35
238 yds
3 TD, 2 INT
2 drops
1 batted pass
2 throwaways
  • 3-man rush: 2/3, 24 yards, 1 drop
  • 4-man rush: 16/22, 183 yards, 2 TD, INT, 2 throwaways
  • 5-man rush: 4/8, 13 yards, INT, 1 drop, 1 batted pass
  • 6+ man rush: 2/2, 18 yards, TD
  • 1st Down: 6/11, 71 yards, TD, INT, 1 batted pass
  • 2nd Down: 12/15, 110 yards, 1 drop, 2 throwaways
  • 3rd Down: 5/8, 55 yards, TD, INT, 1 drop
  • 4th Down: 1/1, 2 yards, TD
     
  • 11 Personnel: 20/29, 211 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2 drops, 2 throwaways
  • 12 Personnel: 3/5, 25 yards, 1 batted pass
  • Extra Lineman: 1/1, 2 yards, TD

ADJUSTED COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 81.25%*

The Positives
  • Outside of the bad interception third-down interception, Clifford looked pretty good when he had to put some muscle behind his throws. He looks a lot stronger this season and it's already showing. This throw to Daniel George on a 3rd-and-9 was an absolute rip.

 

  • ​Aside from that throw, Clifford looked most impressive when he had to move his feet a bit, whether leaving the pocket or not. The long touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson was a great example of this, as he was able to move up through the pocket to find himself enough space to uncork a deep ball. Also of note here - this was often a throw that Clifford short-armed/didn't have enough arm strength for a year ago. That was certainly not an issue here as he placed this ball on a platter for Dotson.

 

  • ​However, I think Clifford's most impressive throw of the day is one that doesn't even show up in the box score. On a third-and-seven, Clifford had a blitzer right in his face but still hung in the pocket long enough to loft a beautiful ball up for freshman Parker Washington in a place where only he could make a play on it. In fact, it was such a perfect pass that cornerback Taiwan Mullen (one of the best defensive backs in the conference) could do nothing else but interfere with Washington to avoid giving up a monster play.

 

The Negatives
  • As I said at the top, Clifford looked a lot better to me on rewatch than he did live. The issue was that Kirk Ciarrocca seemed to lose a bit of confidence in his quarterback after the two early interceptions, as the team continued to go back to the quick pass in the flat, whether to Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee, or Brenton Strange. This isn't a bad play, in fact, it can be quite an effective way to give your playmakers the ball in space. But the frequency with which this play call was made was borderline strange. It's not the sort of play we saw repeated by the Minnesota offense a year ago, which leads me to think there was some tentativeness here.
  • The interceptions were, to put it lightly, not good. I went over those in more depth here so I won't do that again, but they were game-changers and really dampened what could have been a really nice start to the season for Clifford.
  • It is also worth noting that Clifford flirting with danger a couple more times in the game. He had a pass that fluttered due to a hit manage to safely find Pat Freiermuth's hands, while another pass that was altered luckily avoided everyone. Freiermuth bailed his quarterback out once again with a slick one-handed grab that could have easily been an interception if not for the effort.
Clifford Passing Chart (Season)
  LEFT MIDDLE RIGHT TOTALS
20+ YARDS -
-
-
-
1/1
60 yds
TD
-
1/1
21 yds
-
-
2/2
81 yds
TD
-
10-19 YARDS 1/1
15 yds
-
-
1/5
16 yds
INT
1 drop
1 batted pass
2/3
27 yds
-
-
4/9
58 yds
INT
1 drop
1 batted pass
0-9 YARDS 5/5
26 yds
-
-
3/4
26 yds
TD
1 drop
2/5
18 yds
TD, INT
-
10/14
70 yds
2 TD, INT
1 drop
BEHIND L.O.S. 4/4
20 yds
-
-
1/1
4 yds
-
-
3/3
5 yds
-
-
8/8
29 yds
-
-
TOTALS 10/10
61 yds
-
-
-
6/11
106 yds
2 TD, INT
2 drops
1 batted pass
8/12
71 yds
TD, INT
1 drop
24/35
238 yds
3 TD, 2 INT
2 drops
1 batted pass
2 throwaways
  • 3-man rush: 2/3, 24 yards, 1 drop
  • 4-man rush: 16/22, 183 yards, 2 TD, INT, 2 throwaways
  • 5-man rush: 4/8, 13 yards, INT, 1 drop, 1 batted pass
  • 6+ man rush: 2/2, 18 yards, TD
  • 1st Down: 6/11, 71 yards, TD, INT, 1 batted pass
  • 2nd Down: 12/15, 110 yards, 1 drop, 2 throwaways
  • 3rd Down: 5/8, 55 yards, TD, INT, 1 drop
  • 4th Down: 1/1, 2 yards, TD
     
  • 11 Personnel: 20/29, 211 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2 drops, 2 throwaways
  • 12 Personnel: 3/5, 25 yards, 1 batted pass
  • Extra Lineman: 1/1, 2 yards, TD

ADJUSTED COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 81.25%*

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 only judging him by his throws, and not by external factors outside of his control. 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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