Drew Allar excels while Penn State displays great depth in win over Ohio
Throughout the offseason, James Franklin raved about the difference in Penn State’s 2022 depth compared to that of the 2021 Nittany Lions, and it showed in its 46-10 victory over Ohio on Saturday.
The dominant performance gave Nittany Lion fans a glimpse of what the future holds, with Drew Allar and Nick Singleton boasting elite performances.
Sean Clifford started the second half and led one drive that ended on a missed field goal before trading in his helmet for a towel and clipboard while handing the keys of the offense to Allar.
When Allar took the field, the 107,306-person crowd became as loud as it was the entire game.
The blue and white had a 19-point advantage with 11:33 remaining in the third quarter when Allar came into the contest, and while some fans may have questioned the decision to bring him this early into the game, Franklin had a plan.
In an ideal world, Franklin wanted Allar in the game even sooner, planning for him to see a drive in the second quarter, but it didn’t happen.
“I think sometimes in the past, we have planned on getting the guys in the game once there was a certain lead,” Franklin said. “And when the game doesn't play out that way, they don't get the time that you really wanted them to have.”
19 points doesn’t give an 18-year-old playing in his second career game a lot of wiggle room, but Franklin made up his mind to play Allar early.
His decision to play Allar in the third quarter suggests there’s more emphasis on playing the Medina, Ohio, native to get him more in-game experience.
Allar played in just one drive in the season opener against Purdue completing two passes for 26 yards, but Saturday provided the coaching staff and fans an extended look at the former five-star.
Playing for most of the third quarter and the start of the fourth, Allar put on a show going 6-8 for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
While his arm talent is what many fans clamor about, he showed off some previously unseen mobility, rushing five times, including some designed quarterback runs.
“I think the biggest thing that jumps out to everybody is he's just super poised in there,” Franklin said. “For a young kid, the game seems slow to him already.”
The addition of Allar gives the blue and white something it desperately lacked a year ago, depth.
When Clifford got hurt against Iowa, Penn State didn’t have a quality backup in place, resulting in a loss, and also against Illinois when Clifford played severely injured.
“We got up on a few games, and we got Ta'Quan [Roberson] some reps, but realistically, he just didn't get that consistent time,” Clifford said. “It's just different when you're playing the whole game. You get adjustments and everything.”
While many are unsure what Penn State’s plan of attack is with its quarterback room, it’s extremely valuable to keep having the plethora of field generals continue to rack up reps.
“This is my last year. I want to be out there with my guys as much as possible,” Clifford said. “But the one thing I will say is, if it means giving up some time to get guys prepared, I want to win more than anything. I have no ego in that. “The only thing that matters to me is winning football games.”
While Allar stole the show coming off the bench, Penn State’s depth was on full display throughout the contest.
Twenty-four players recorded a tackle, 17 players caught a pass, eight players attempted at least one rush and three quarterbacks threw a pass.
The involvement of several Nittany Lions in the home opener, even before they started to pull away late in the game, is a great sign for the future.
After Allar was removed from the game midway through the fourth quarter, redshirt-freshman signal caller Christian Veilleux replaced him and completed 6-7 passes for 37 yards.
Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Harrison Wallace III was tied as the team’s reception leader, while true freshman Omari Evans and redshirt freshman Khalil Dinkins both hauled in touchdowns.
On defense, redshirt-freshman linebacker Dominic DeLuca and true freshman Abdul Carter tallied five tackles each, good enough for second on the team.
True-freshmen defensive linemen Zane Durant, Dani Dennis-Sutton, cornerback Cam Miller and safety Kevin Winston Jr. also hit the field.
“One of the things I talked to the team about in there is that games like that are really important because there’s so many players that work their tail off every day in season. Some guys have been doing it for years, and they never get an opportunity to see the field,” Franklin said. “I appreciate the fact that our starters were able to execute in a way that allows a number of guys to get on the field and get some playing time.”
Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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