Key Matchup: Penn State Quarterback vs. Nebraska's Defensive Line

By Michael Stanley on November 13, 2020 at 10:26 am
Aug 31, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Will Levis (7) looks to throw a pass during the fourth quarter against the Idaho Vandals at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Idaho 79-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It's painfully clear that something needs to change for the Nittany Lions in terms of quarterback play. This weekend, two winless teams in Penn State and the Nebraska Cornhuskers face off looking to turn their seasons around. James Franklin may have to make some drastic changes if the Nittany Lions hope to come out of this with a win.

Sean Clifford hasn't lived up to the expectations set upon him this season. He was a solid quarterback last season and, under the tutelage of Kirk Ciarrocca, was expected to take another big step forward a la Tanner Morgan at Minnesota. However, something has changed and he isn't playing at the level necessary to win in the Big Ten. Clifford is also running far more than a quarterback in a Ciarrocca-led offense should be. If it's gotten to the point that they don't trust their own quarterback to throw and want to run him a dozen times a game, why is Will Levis not getting a look?

Levis is built like a linebacker and has the athleticism to match. He hasn't proven to be a great passer but Clifford hasn't done much to prove his arm is much better. It's time to give Levis a chance to show what he can do. To be fair to Sean Clifford and the other quarterbacks that should find themselves taking snaps, the offensive line hasn't held up as well as we thought it would. This is where Nebraska's defensive line comes into play.

The Cornhuskers' defensive line opened up the season with a solid showing against a very talented Ohio State offensive line. There isn't a world-beater in the group but with Penn State's offensive line's performance thus far, they could still get consistent pressure throughout the game. While Clifford has plenty of his own issues, his "happy feet" in particular can be attributed in part of the pressure he's faced.

If Penn State is to pull out the win on Saturday, they'll need to take a bold chance by giving one of the backup quarterbacks some snaps. Levis in particular matches incredibly well with Ciarrocca's playcalling up to this point in the season and could provide a real spark as long as Nebraska's line isn't penetrating the backfield on every other play.