Penn State returns to the field Saturday for the first time since suffering their only loss of the season, an October 9th heartbreaker at the hands of Iowa. The Nittany Lions didn’t just lose the Iowa game, they also lost their starting quarterback, Sean Clifford, who was injured in the second quarter.
Now, after two weeks of rest, Clifford seems poised to return to the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions’ lineup ahead of their Big Ten matchup with Illinois.
Seems that Sean Clifford is currently practicing. pic.twitter.com/zt7msGgpSq
— Jon Sauber (@JonSauber) October 20, 2021
Clifford’s injury versus Iowa occurred with Penn State leading 17-3. After he exited, the PSU offense continually stalled, and the Hawkeyes eventually bested the boys in blue 23-20. As the loss to Iowa proved, the Nittany Lions are a much different team without their starting signal caller.
But now, to the delight of the Penn State faithful, Clifford’s now back at practice.
“It was good to see him be able to get some reps today practice,” coach James Franklin said after Wednesday’s practice. “And all three of (the quarterbacks) were (healthy).”
Wednesday’s practice marked the first time the media has seen Clifford throw since his injury earlier this month, though Franklin confirmed that it wasn’t the first time the team saw him tossing the pigskin.
“Today was not the first day that Sean has been able to throw,” Franklin insisted.
Penn State’s coach then acknowledged the importance of having a healthy Clifford back on the field:
“Obviously it helps. For me to understate that would not be accurate. He’s been really good, really, since the season ended last year and for the last couple of years…
“It’s different, obviously, when you’re able to be in the huddle and be able to lead not only with the words, but also your actions. So it’s been good,” added Franklin.
Though he stopped short of announcing Clifford as Saturday’s starter, Franklin seems to share the sentiment of the Penn State fan base.
“I think we would all agree that we’d like Sean back,” he said.
FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Nittany Lions as 23.5 favorites over visiting Illinois. Clifford’s potential return is slated for a noon EST kickoff.
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