Penn State has installed not only a new offense this spring but also a fresh approach, quarterback Sean Clifford said. As a result, the fifth-year player called this team one of his favorites.
"I'm really content with where we're at," Clifford said. "Last season is last season, so there's nothing really to harp on right now. And I'm just excited to have this new, fresh start with this team."
Clifford, poised to become Penn State's third-year starting quarterback, said the program cast off the remnants of 2020's 4-5 record through winter and spring workouts. Clifford described a new energy inspired by players who "want to be here."
Some other veteran players, including receiver Jahan Dotson and defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Tariq Castro-Fields, said they have noticed a similar energy as well.
"We have a bunch of guys that are really hard-working," Clifford said. "This is one of my favorite teams that I’ve had to be a part of, and it’s really exciting to come in and lead every day, because everybody's willing to listen and everybody wants to be here. And it's cool for me as a leader and an old guy, a veteran. I talk to other vets, ... and we all say the same thing: It's easy to come into work because everybody wants to be here. And it just makes life a lot easier."
For Clifford, who is learning his third different offense as a starter, spring has reset his expectations. Coordinator Mike Yurcich has installed most of the base offense and a "high volume of plays" during a rapid-fire spring.
Yurcich has been aggressive in pushing the quarterbacks through spring drills, an approach Clifford said he has appreciated.
"We've had an install almost every single day," Clifford said. "You learn to adapt and grow on the fly and learn. ... That's what coach Yurcich does so well: He pushes us to another level. Before, I looked at everything one way, and coach Yurcich brought another level of competition, another level of focus, to me and kind of showed me a different side. I'm excited about it. I know he is, and I'm excited to see how the offense goes from here."
Yurcich said the players have handled the volume of information well. He wants them to build on that this summer to make sure they reach training camp ready to fine-tune the offense. In particular, Yurcich wants Clifford and the quarterbacks to show more consistency in their daily work.
"We're working on it," Yurcich said. "We're not where we need to be. The effort is there, the concentration's there, the want-to is there. ... Now it's, 'Where can I help him improve? How can I coach him better? How can I get through to him faster to where we're making zero mistakes and he's on point?' And we're chasing that perfect game."
Get the latest Penn State news by joining the community. Click "Follow" at the top right of our AllPennState page. Mobile users click the notification bell. And please follow AllPennState on Twitter @MarkWogenrich.