Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is "doing everything he possibly can" to return from the injury he sustained at Iowa, but that's as far as coach James Franklin would carry the discussion Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Franklin did confirm after practice that defensive tackle and captain PJ Mustipher will miss the remainder of the season with an injury he sustained in the same game. Five Penn State players left the 23-20 loss with injuries, and Franklin did not provide updates on the others: running backs Devyn Ford and John Lovett and safety and special teams captain Jonathan Sutherland.
Franklin said that quarterbacks Ta'Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux have split reps in practice this week, "but nothing has been decided or determined at this point." Penn State is off this week before hosting Illinois on Oct. 30.
"It's part of the game, right?" Franklin said when asked about Clifford's spirits. "Sean's had issues in the past. He's doing everything he possibly can to get back as soon as he possibly can and go from there. What he's dealing with is not uncommon at the quarterback position."
Clifford played five series against Iowa, leaving the game with about 7 minutes left in the first half and Penn State leading 17-3. He rejoined the team in the second half but stood on the sideline in street clothes.
Clifford took several big hits in the game, notably one from Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell that proved to be his last play.
Penn State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said before the game that Clifford has become tougher in the pocket this season.
"Sean has made up his mind to be a tough SOB and to stand in there and keep his eyes downfield on a consistent basis," Yurcich said. "That needs to continue to grow. That’s one of the things about being a quarterback; you have to have that."
After the game, Roberson told reporters in Iowa City that Clifford was an instrumental sounding board for him. He also described a close relationship between them.
"Since I've been here, Sean took me under his wing, so we have a really cool relationship and a really close bond," Roberson said, according to BlueWhite Illustrated. "... I think he did a very good job on the sideline, although he wasn't able to be physically out on the field, he got us right mentally."
Franklin confirmed that the starting defensive tackle and team captain will miss the remainder of the season. Mustipher was injured early in the first quarter and was on crutches after the game.
"Obviously PJ, we think, is an elite-level player," Franklin said Wednesday after practice.
The loss is considerable for Penn State's defense. Mustipher was playing as well as anyone on that defense and led a line that already had absorbed several losses, notably to defensive end Adisa Isaac. Mustipher had been named a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top lineman.
The senior had played in 40 games, with 16 starts, and made 21 tackles (three for losses) this season. Franklin praised Mustipher for consistently playing within the defense's framework and rarely getting out of position.
"With PJ, it's really the value of knowing what you're going to get," Franklin said. "If PJ is supposed to be in the A gap, he's going to be in the A gap. ... The interesting thing is, sometimes guys will get out of their gap and make a play. And you have to be careful, as a coach and as a player, that the success that they had to make in the play, that it doesn't become how they play — trying to make a play and jumping out of a gap and not trusting their teammates to do their job. And I think that's where a guy like PJ is so valuable."