Welcome back to Penn State Preview Week. If you haven't read the Cocktail Preview or Coaching Staff features, check them out!
I've already mentioned the new coaching hires and departures on the offensive side of the ball, headlined by former Minnesota Golden Golphers OC Kirk Ciarrocca. Instead of rehashing, let's dive in to the position groups, see who will be crushing your dreams this year.
Starter: Sean Clifford
Player to watch: Sean Clifford. Obviously, the starting QB is one of the most important positions on the field, so you'll want to pay attention to how he is doing. In 2019, Clifford took over for Trace McSorley, and racked up a respectable 2600 yards passing on 59% completion rate. Clifford threw for 23 touchdowns, but did have 7 interceptions. Clifford also added 400 yards on the ground, with 5 rushing touchdowns. He has all the tools to be the fourth consecutive Nittany Lions quarterback to play on Sundays.
Starter: Journey Brown
Player to watch: Noah Cain. Brown has earned the top spot, with 13 touchdowns and over a thousand yards from scrimmage, while sharing time all year. Cain, though, is a punishing back who runs downhill like the Juggernaut.
Starters: Jahan Dotson, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Daniel George
Player to watch: Anyone? The receiving corps returns only 44 catches from last year, most of which came from Dotson. Incoming coach, and former all-universe Purdue receiver Taylor Stubblefield, has work to replace KJ Hamler. In addition to the presumed starters above, Stubblefield also gets to work with RS Freshman John Dunmore, a high 4 star recruit.
Starter: Pat Freiermuth
Player to watch: Opposing cornerbacks. This is the position where Franklin's recruiting prowess has paid off the most dramatically. The Lions have always had great linebackers and running backs, but I can't think of a time they have had this incredible run of tight ends. Nick Bowers, Mike Gesicki, and Jesse James paved the way for Pat Freiermuth, Zack Kuntz, and Brenton Strange. Freiermuth's third touchdown at Michigan State last year brought him into first place all-time for Penn State tight ends. As a Sophomore.
Starters: LT Rasheed Walker, LG Mike Miranda, C Michal Menet, RG CJ Thorpe, RT Will Fries
Player to watch: Michal Menet. This is the fifth year Senior's squad, through and through. He will anchor a very experienced line. Each player received the most snaps at their position last year, with Miranda earning his starting position midway through the season. In the two-deep, RS Freshman Caedan Wallace is good enough to start now, but will have to be content with pushing Fries to stay at the top of his game.
Starters: Jake Pinegar, Jordan Stout (Kickoffs/Long Kicks)
Player to watch: Jordan Stout. The one time Virginia Tech kicker came to Happy Valley last year with a fantastic leg. Of his 83 kickoffs, 66 were touchbacks. Stout attempted three FGs, all over 50 yards, making from 53 against Idaho and 57(!!) against Pitt.
Most of a top 25 offense returns this year, more experienced and hopefully hungry. I think it's fair to predict opposing teams will hear this song plenty in 2020: