You’ve heard it over and over already. Penn State started Big Ten play, or the season itself in the past three years, on the road against an opponent that would turn out to be pretty good. Last week, against a Purdue team that may very well compete for the West, they did what they had to do to get the win.
On Saturday, the Nittany Lions do what good teams should: They went out against an overmatched opponent, and put on a clinic that may very well answer the statement franklin made to the media time after time this summer:
But again, you guys will tell me very clearly where we’re at after the game.
We’ll tell you alright. Penn State looked like the kind of team that is ready to compete. With the “100 yards rushing in a game” monkey off their back, the Nittany Lions can now focus on how they want to run the ball moving forward, what kinds of schemes they want to implement, what kind of split is realistic, as Singleton proved beyond the shadow of a doubt he deserves the bulk of the carries. Having the tape to prove it can be done, we can hopefully see a team that moves on from the near timid approach to running the ball we saw the past couple of seasons, and can go back to the complementary football we’re used to seeing.
Speaking of complementary football, James Franklin made the astute decision to have Drew Allar play meaningful minutes in the third quarter. Most reasonable people would be right to expect Allar to only see time once the game was well in hand, potentially in the fourth quarter. No. The game was as close at 19-7 heading into halftime, and Sean Clifford so exactly one series in the third quarter. Allar played the rest of the third quarter, and some of the fourth, and boy was he good!
Both quarterbacks played well all things considered, but you have to love how Allar was able to command the pocket. You also love how beautiful his throws look, having the ability to place balls exactly where they need to be, while also having the awareness to make something out of nothing when the pocket does collapse. Allar does not possess the mobility Clifford does, as the number of hits he ended up taking after trying to run with it showed. Christian Veilleux finished out the game once it was well out of hand, showing that the quarterback room is more than OK a year after the debacle we saw.
All in all, Franklin should be lauded for making the decision to give Allar meaningful minutes when it counted. Don’t expect him to Harbaugh his way into a quarterback controversy though. Clifford is this team’s starting quarterback. But, giving Allar reps now, against opponents’ first teams, is going to prepare the quarterback for what is surely his job next year.
Besides, every great freshman quarterback in the playoff era saw himself sit behind a more experienced counterpart before taking over for good. Even Trevor Lawrence, who may be one of the best quarterbacks in the previous 20 years.
Stats and Storylines
Players play - All four running backs have a role in this offense. Devin Ford is the pass catching back, Keyvone Lee is the short yardage guy who will get you the first down, Kaytron Allen is the battering ram, and, as of Saturday, Singleton is the one who will make you remember the years 2016 to 2019 fondly. Take notes Jimmy, that’s how you keep a stacked position group happy.
Speaking of Jimmy - If you stayed up to watch the Michigan massacre, you’d have heard something late into the game. Those were Michigan fans booing Cade McNamara, the guy who just last year gave them their first win over Ohio State in a decade, their first Big Ten title in two decades, and their first College Football Playoff appearance. The next time you feel James Franklin is doing wrong by Allar, remember this right here.
Clifford may not be the best quarterback in the history of Penn State football, but no one with a straight face can tell me that Franklin is jerking Allar or Clifford around the way Harbaugh hung McNamara out to dry. Harbaugh clearly wanted to start J.J. McCarthy, and instead of doing that, he put McNamara in a position to fail, while giving McCarthy every opportunity to succeed.
6.9 - That’s the average yards per carry Penn State achieved against Ohio. That’s more than double than what they did last season. Nice!
5 - Number of sacks surrendered by the offensive line. Some were coverage sacks, in their defense, but after finally breaking through in the ground game, let’s hope this is merely a blip and not a sign of things to come.
73.8 - The combined completion percentage of all three quarterbacks in the game. Clifford went 19 of 27, Allar 6 of 8, and Veilleux 6 of 7. What an accurate bunch!