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MMQB - The Doctor is In

Let’s get clinical.

NCAA Football: Delaware at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

43 of 55, a 78.2% completion percentage, for 529 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a 183.0 quarterback rating.

Drew Allar is exactly what Penn State fans hoped he would be, and perhaps more.

Let’s start with the obvious: Drew is putting up some monster numbers. Aided by a competent (if not dominant) offensive line, fantastic running backs, and a plethora of good-to-perhaps-great receiving options, Allar has manufactured more offense in the first two weeks than many expected. Hoped for, certainly, but not necessarily expected.

Add in that he’s also been able to carry the ball nine times, resulting in an additional TD, and statistically, things are looking good.

But to me, I’ve been more impressed by his mentality. Not any quote he’s uttered, or even commentary by his coaches or teammates. I mean in watching him play.

In years past - and I mean from 2016 through 2022 - any time a play would break down, and a quarterback was flushed from the pocket, without hesitation they would tuck and run. Trace McSorley, Tommy Stevens, Sean Clifford, and Will Levis were all in this camp. And it was successful. The defense having to account for a QB scramble is something that can make any defensive coordinator sweat.

But a QB scramble is often just that - a mad dash to try to get just a few yards, in an attempt to salvage what was meant to be a 5-, 10-, or 20-yard-plus play. In other words, better than a sack, or incompletion, but nowhere near as successful as the original play design.

Enter Dr. Allar.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him use his borderline uncanny pocket presence to evade pressure - seemingly without even looking at it, but feeling it - and rather than taking off for a 5-yard gain, keeping his eyes downfield. Knowing that a) a ball being thrown will cover the yardage much more quickly, and b) the skill players are there because they’re faster and shiftier than he is. This is not a slight against Drew, but simply a statement. At 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds, quickness is not a strong suit of his.

He will, of course, take the obvious yards when they’re there. And we’ve seen him take direct snaps, so clearly him running the ball is something the coaches are comfortable with. But he is able to accurately diagnose a play, which to my untrained eye, stems from having such a grasp of the offense that he knows exactly where his receivers are supposed to be, and when they’re supposed to be there.

So, when a pocket breaks down, he’s not panicking and trying to force a throw into a bad situation. Instead, he’s glancing where he already knows he’ll have receiver support. And when a defender inevitably charges forward to account for that potential 5-yard scramble, Dr. Allar is happy to dump the ball over his head for a 10-yard gain.

So long as The Doctor™ is out there diagnosing plays, making the best possible play and minimizing risk, the offense will thrive. So far, the team hasn’t needed him to absolutely sling the ball to win any games, but I trust that when that time comes, the diagnoses will continue.