MINNEAPOLIS Minn.-- Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford and tight end Pat Freiermuth both offered up passionate defenses of offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne following the Nittany Lions' 31-26 on Saturday.
“I've never had more trust in a coach than I have in Coach Rahne,” Clifford said. “I don't really listen to what people say, I don't really listen to what you people (the media) say. But Coach Rahne, you know, I have the most respect for him. And I trust him with every single call. So there's not one time during a game that I’m, you know, questioning what he is doing. I have full trust in him, I've got a lot of love for Coach Rahne."
The criticism of Rahne is a somewhat nuanced issue. Penn State went 8-for-16 on third down and racked up 518 yards of offense as well as two different receiving targets going for over 100 yards. Equally true the Nittany Lions struggled in the red zone, an area where Penn State has excelled at this year. Heading into Saturday's game the Nittany Lions had scored a touchdown on 77.4% of its red zone trips, 11th best in the nation.
By the end of Minnesota's upset victory, Penn State scored four times on six trips, but just two of those scores were touchdowns.
“I don't really know what people are saying, but at the same time, you know there's not one time during that game where I didn't think that Coach Rahne had full control,” Clifford added. “So I have no problem with anything that he did. It's on me.”
In the eyes of Freiermuth it comes down to execution, not the play itself, an often difficult line of demarcation when it comes to judging the quality and struggles of an offense.
“Coach Rahne, I know the media is giving him a hard time,” Freiermuth said. “But coach Rahne is the best offensive coordinator in the country and I stand by that. That's my coach and I love him. He calls the right play and we don't execute it. So anyone bashing coach Rahne, I think they're wrong. I think he's one of the best play-callers in the whole country if not the best, and we're gonna stand by him and we’ve just got to execute more."
Penn State has gone 18-5 over the last two seasons under Rahne's direction including a Fiesta Bowl victory.