Penn State fans expected freshman quarterback Drew Allar to play at some point during the team’s home opener against Ohio.
But what many fans might not have expected is for Allar to have gotten into the game as early as he did.
With less than three and a half minutes gone in the second half and Penn State holding a comfortable but not ridiculous 26-7 lead, starting QB Sean Clifford came out of the game, and Allar, already No. 2 on the depth chart as a true freshman, came in.
The move paid off. Allar went 6-8 for 88 yards and two touchdowns passing. Penn State scored three touchdowns in Allar’s four possessions at quarterback, outscoring Ohio 20-3 in the second half to complete a 46-10 win.
Allar coming in as early as he did surprised people, and even more surprising is that Penn State wanted to use him sooner.
“Our plan was to play him a series in the second quarter and then a series in the third quarter,” coach James Franklin said in his postgame press conference. “I wanted to try and do that. I think sometimes, in the past, we have planned on getting guys in the game once there was a certain lead, and when the game doesn’t play out that way, then they don’t get the time that you really wanted them to have.”
For most of the first half, Penn State didn’t blow Ohio away on the scoreboard. With 1:34 left, Penn State’s lead was 19-7, somewhat underwhelming given the context.
With the game too close for Allar to go in, Clifford led an 8-play, 78-yard drive in 1:14 to push Penn State’s lead to three scores.
Penn State got the ball to start the second half, and Clifford moved the ball again. But a 5-play, 50-yard drive didn’t end in any points. Jake Pinegar missed a 42-yard field goal, and the score stayed Penn State 26, Ohio 7.
On the next drive, Allar came in and got a big ovation from the Beaver Stadium crowd.
Drew Allar’s first college touchdown pass is a 32-yarder to another true freshman, Omari Evans. pic.twitter.com/xoikAwX54C
— Joe Smeltzer (@joesmeltzer775) September 10, 2022
His second touchdown pass was to redshirt freshman tight end Khalil Dinkins. Both Evans and Dinkins had the first touchdown catches of their careers.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 10, 2022
For Franklin, Allar’s play is mature beyond his 18 years.
“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.”
Franklin also complimented Allar’s work ethic leading up to games and mentioned that his impressive physical build is an advantage.
“I think he’s doing a really good job from a preparation standpoint,” Franklin said. “I think it also helps that he’s 6-foot-5 and 242 pounds because he’s bigger than half the guys chasing him.”
Allar ran the ball a little bit for Penn State, too.
His rushing stats– 11 yards on five attempts– won’t blow anybody away, but Franklin felt Allar did enough with his feet to make opposing defenses think.
“I thought his mobility today, the fact that people are going to have to respect him in the zone read game and things like that.”
“He ain’t Trace McSorley. I’m not saying that. But he does enough to keep people honest.”
Allar is also doing more than enough to excite Penn State fans about what’s to come.