The Penn State football season has officially begun.
The Nittany Lions opened summer camp with their first official practice of the 2019 season on August 2.
Here are five questions and things to watch as Penn State gets ready to return to Beaver Stadium against Idaho in under a month.
Who will be the starting quarterback?
A question that has been heavily debated ever since Penn State’s loss to Kentucky in the 2019 Citrus Bowl brought Trace McSorley’s career in the blue and white to a close.
And all spring a quarterback battle was looming for the summer between Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford as Stevens was not 100 percent during spring practice after an offseason surgery.
Then, the question seemingly got answered as Stevens announced his intention to transfer and then in May eventually made his to Mississippi State.
But this question was far from answered, as James Franklin made it very clear at Big Ten Media Day, Clifford will not be just handed the starting job, he will have to compete for it.
Franklin on QBs Sean Clifford and Will Levis pic.twitter.com/AIuHrcNRq0— Collegian Football (@psufootblog) July 19, 2019
At the end of the day, all signs are pointing towards Clifford winning the job and leading the team out onto the field against Idaho, but nothing is guaranteed and according to Franklin every position on the team is up for grabs.
Will the defense be able to live up to the hype?
With some uncertainty and some turnover on the offensive side off the ball and after a strong performance last season, expectations are high on the defensive side of the ball for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions ranked No. 23 in the country last season giving up an average of 20.5 points per game.
Penn State also ranked No. 15 in the country in passing yards allowed per game and No. 11 in the nation in yards per play.
After putting up numbers those numbers last season and players like Yetur Gross-Matos, Cam Brown, Robert Windsor and Micah Parsons returning, it’s safe to say expectations are high.
And in some areas, Penn State could very well defy expectations.
One of these areas is on the defensive line, where the Nittany Lions are stacked with raw talent especially on the edge.
The area with the most question marks on the defensive side of the ball is the area that Penn State struggled the most last season, the secondary.
The Nittany Lions lost Amani Oruwariye and Nick Scott to the NFL, weakening the position.
The secondary and if anyone unexpected steps up for Penn State this season could very well determine the ceiling for this Penn State defense.
What position group needs to improve the most for Penn State to take the next step?
Football games are determined in the trenches and for the past couple seasons, Penn State has not been strong on the offensive line.
One position group that needs to take a step forward in 2019 for the Nittany Lions to reach their lofty goals is the offensive line.
The losses of Connor McGovern and Ryan Bates to the NFL are absolutely massive to a position group that was finally starting to show some depth.
This depth will now be tested this season.
Steven Gonzalez, Michal Menet and Will Fries will anchor this unit that will be tasked with protecting the Nittany Lions new quarterback and establishing a running game for the plethora of talented running backs in Penn State’s backfield.
Who is most likely to have a breakout season?
Last season, Gross-Matos exploded onto the scene and all of a sudden is projected as a top pick in next seasons NFL draft.
This season a similar breakout effort could be had by a multitude of players, but my eye is on Jayson Oweh.
Oweh, like Gross-Matos is a defensive end and will have to battle for playing time in one of Penn State’s deepest positions, but there is a reason coaches and players kept mentioning his name in the spring.
The sophomore has been described as a “freak” by those around the program for his speed attached to his 6-foot-5, 255 pound frame.
In Oweh’s first ever college appearance against Kent State, he recorded three tackles including two sacks.
Penn State could very well have another breakout player at the defensive end position this season.
What should expectations be for this young team?
After two straights 11 win campaigns, Penn State went 9-4 last season ending the year with a loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl, putting a disappointing stamp on the season for many Penn State fans.
This leaves the question for this season, what should the expectations be? And with many new faces across the team, how good can this be?
Bottom-line the biggest challenge this season for Penn State is going to be experience and maturity.
There is no doubt that this Penn State team is among, if not is, the most talented team Franklin has coached at Penn State, but raw talent doesn’t always equal wins.
Franklin stated at Big Ten Media Day just how fast this team, but once again lacks experience.
The good news for the Nittany Lions is their nonconference schedule is pretty straightforward with no huge tests, the tests come later in the season in Big Ten play, mainly games against three of their losses last season, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
No matter what the expectations are this season for Penn State, the players want to win a Big Ten Championship and the key to obtaining that will lie in their games against the other top teams in the Big Ten and if they can find victories in those tight games.