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Franklin Says Team Will Start QB ‘Who Gives us the Best Chance to go 1-0 This Week’

James Franklin

Penn State’s chances at winning the Big Ten and making the College Football Playoff are gone. 

But the last four games on its schedule are all ones Penn State should win, perhaps decisively, thus finishing 10-2 after winning 11 games total over the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

So fans and media are asking: Why not start Drew Allar at QB?

The big story of coach James Franklin’s weekly Tuesday press conference was Allar and how much Penn State plans on using him in November.

Of course, Franklin didn’t directly answer that question and didn’t love it.

“I understand the question; I truly do,” Franklin said. “But it almost comes off to me when I’ve gotten that question multiple times as if this (Indiana) is not really important. So, for us, we’re going to look at who gives us the best chance to go 1-0 this week and go from there.”

Allar, a former five-star recruit from Medina High School in Ohio, is thought to be Penn State’s next great QB, and the question is not if Allar will get his shot at QB, but when. 

We have yet to find the answer to that. Still, Franklin gave insight into the decision-making process, saying he’s talked to multiple assistant coaches as well as analysts Ken Whisenhunt and Danny O’Brien.

“First of all, it’s not a decision that I make on my own,” Franklin said. “Whenever there’s big decisions like that, I want to make sure that I’m not too close to it. 

“I had a pretty good conversion with (offensive coordinator and QB coach) Mike Yurcich, obviously. Talked to (defensive coordinator) Manny Diaz about it, talked to Coach Whiz about it, talked to (analyst) Danny O’Brien. So I talked to the guys that had either been a college or NFL head coach before—also talked to a guy who played the position (O’Brien) as well and got everybody’s thoughts. And we’ll continue to evaluate it like we always do.”

Sean Clifford has been Penn State’s regular starting QB since 2019, and he’s become a polarizing figure, especially over the past two seasons. 

Although the team is a solid 6-2 this year, it hasn’t stopped Clifford from criticism. 

Before the team’s White Out game against Minnesota, fans booed Clifford during player introductions. This past Saturday against Ohio State, Clifford threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, which made a big difference in the team’s 44-31 loss. 

Allar has appeared in six of Penn State’s eight games, not playing in the team’s Oct. 1 win over Northwestern or this past Saturday’s loss to Ohio State. In limited action, Allar is 18-31 (58.1 completion percentage) with 209 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Penn State starts its November slate Saturday at Indiana, then plays Maryland at Beaver Stadium the following week. Franklin’s team plays at Rutgers Nov. 19 and ends the regular season against Michigan Stadium at home on Senior Day, Nov. 26. 

“There’s still a ton of football left to be played,” Franklin said, “and whoever is going to give us a chance to be 1-0 this week and have a chance to win a bunch of games this year for all the guys in the locker room, that’s who we’re going to go with. But the question, and similar questions like that, I don’t necessarily love the tone of it. But I get it.”

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