For Penn State fans, it was a week of suspense and speculation, but for James Franklin and his staff, it was a single discussion.
The starter or the backup?
The polarizing sixth-year senior or the popular freshman?
The old or the new?
Well, it turns out one conversation was all it took to convince the Penn State boss of the best course of action.
“Nothing had changed,” Franklin told reporters in his postgame press conference. “I had a discussion with members of the staff, but nothing had changed from our perspective. Everybody still saw it the same way. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t too close to the decision. Literally, to a man, everybody saw it the same way.”
Many Penn State fans will still argue that Allar should have started against Indiana. Some have been clamoring for the former five-star from Medina, Ohio, to be Penn State’s QB1 since before the season. Others started shouting after Penn State’s loss to Ohio State Oct. 29 at Beaver Stadium, where Clifford turned the ball over four times, leading to 21 Buckeye points. Ohio State won 44-31, and many blame Clifford. Many were frustrated when Clifford started in Bloomington, and Clifford throwing an interception on Penn State’s third drive did nothing to help that frustration.
But eventually, Clifford settled down, finishing the day 15-23 for 229 yards before giving way to Allar more than midway through the third quarter.
Franklin wasn’t pleased with the interception but was happy with Clifford overall.
“The one interception, obviously, we have to get rid of that,” Franklin said. “It’s one thing if a defender makes a big-time play. That wasn’t the case there.”
“He does what he always does, which is do a great job of managing the protections, great job of all the checks that we’re using in the run game, or defined motions and things like that that we do.”
Allar did quite well in his limited sample, going 9-12 for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
As Franklin pointed out, unlike Clifford, Allar only played some of his snaps with Penn State’s best players around him.
“You’re not really comparing apples to apples,” Franklin said.
But overall, Franklin gets that people have different viewpoints, and at the end of the day, he’s pleased with his quarterback situation.
“I also understand that you guys don’t get to see it as much,” Franklin said. “I know everybody has strong opinions on what we should do– and it’s not your fault– but with probably less than 1% of the information. Whereas we get to watch these guys in practice every single day, in meetings and in the games, and they’re both doing really good things.”