The Penn State Nittany Lions entered the 2023 college football season without a clear-cut starting quarterback. While coach James Franklin waited until the last possible minute to name Drew Allar as the program’s starting quarterback, the feeling all offseason was the job was Allar’s to lose, and that proved true.
Just prior to kickoff against West Virginia, Franklin named Allar his starter. While it took a while for him to come to that conclusion, after a strong performance from Allar, it seems like the Nittany Lions have found their starter.
Allar completed 21-of-29 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-15 drubbing of the Mountaineers. And after the game, Franklin revealed that while he was pleased with the performance from the quarterback, he ultimately wasn’t surprised.
“That’s the Drew that we saw in preseason camp,” Franklin said following the 23-point victory, via On3. “I think—to be honestly—that’s the Drew we saw unlimited reps last year in terms of when he got into game, he did some really good things and just feels very poised and confident.”
Franklin delivered high praise for West Virginia and its game plan for Allar, but the young quarterback was just better.
“They were smart,” Franklin said. “They played a ton of covers zero, which if you’re going to play a young quarterback and you play cover zero, which allows you to get more guys in the box that we can block in the run game or in protection and create a pressure situation for a quarterback, that’s a smart plan for a first-time starter. But Drew was able to execute the cover zero plan, and except for one, we had the slant to [wide receiver] KeAndre [Lambert-Smith] that he got pressured, he was losing ground and kind of threw it low and slightly behind him. If that thing’s out in front, KeAndre walks in from 70 or 60 or whatever that was. Besides that, I thought he managed it really well.”
It was a successful debut for Allar, who has big shoes to fill in replacing Sean Clifford, who finished his Penn State career as the leader in wins as a starting quarterback (32), completion percentage (.614), completions (833), passing yards (10,661), total yards (11,734), passing touchdowns (86) and pass attempts (1,356).
It certainly seems like he passed his first test under center.