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Progress but PSU shy of being elite

There are some really concerning Penn State’s weaknesses — particularly the soft-zone pass-coverage schemes and breakdowns, and the rapidly declining play of Sean Clifford — but I will take this season and be grateful.

I predicted 8-4, with a likely bowl game loss. I thought this would be a bridge year to 2020.

Instead, we carved out our third top-eight ranking in four seasons. The Cotton Bowl was a very dangerous game for us, and yet we navigated it, and the offseason will be sweet.

But the expectations will be high for next year.

I’m not sure we will ever be “elite” with James Franklin. He might be one of those coaches who is just good enough to get us to the precipice — close enough to smell “elite” but not actually taste it.

He may not be tactically innovative enough to really figure out how to deploy the talent he has acquired in the clutch, end-of-game situations where “elite” teams prosper.

Rick Weber

Fort Myers, Fla.

Eager for PSU in 2020

Given the modest expectations, Penn State’s season review must be viewed in perspective.

Eleven wins is nice, but the team shows real issues that didn’t improve as the season went on.

While Sean Clifford was a first-year starting quarterback, he didn’t improve with reads or accuracy. He needs to be a lot better. The same goes for pass blocking and the pass rush. The secondary made the same mistakes all season. Not acceptable.

On the other side, Micah Parsons may be better than LaVar Arrington, and team is solid at running back, tight end and interior defense.

If they improve on schedule, next year will be fun.

Jeff Keiser, Margate, N.J.

Trending right way

I enjoyed Neil Rudel’s column on the trending aspect of the Nittany Lions’ football program.

As we watch the LSU-type teams play, the caliber of ball is certainly in the “elite” class. I believe that in order to reach that level, the number of four- and five-star athletes have to turn their attention to a fine Lion program.

Winning, as was done this year, is a step in the right direction. Of course, without the proper coaching techniques, the process of becoming an elite program will stall.

Can the secondary improve? Can Clifford improve along with the line and receivers?

Only 2020 will answer those questions.

Dave Kule, Laporte

Interim OC did a good job

Some observations about Penn State’s Cotton Bowl win:

n Who is this Tyler Bowen? He was aggressive with his playcalling and did good job.

n Memphis quarterback Brady White and the wide receivers were pretty good as Memphis playcalling featured everything from A to Z.

n Penn State’s four tailbacks will stay.

n Micah Parsons is unbelievable and may get this team into the College Football Playoff.

n State will move up in the preseason polls in 2020 and contend for top four or five.

n I’ve got a good feeling going into spring ball.

Les Hart, Duncansville

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