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Tuesday With James: Franklin Talks QBs, QBs, QBs

Drew Allar
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) runs with the ball during an NCAA football game against the Purdue Boilermakers on September 1, 2022 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)

No. 16 Penn State is 6-2 this season, and coach James Franklin loves to stress his team’s goal of going “1-0” every week.

Ohio State handed Penn State its second loss of the season this past Saturday at Beaver Stadium, 44-31.

This week, Penn State is looking to finish a week undefeated for the seventh time in 2022. In its way is an Indiana team that’s lost five straight.

Franklin has his weekly press conference Tuesday in Beaver Stadium’s media room. “Tuesdays With James” is a weekly series that highlights Franklin’s key points.

This week, Franklin answered a lot of questions about Penn State’s quarterbacks.

JAMES ON DREW ALLAR’S PRACTICE PERFORMANCE

It’s interesting because you guys (media) do get to see it. Actually, looking at everything, studying everything, it’s amazing how many programs don’t allow media in practice anymore. Kind of went through each of the Big Ten teams and kind of looking at everything. Obviously, looking at offense, defense, special teams, looking at strength and conditioning, looking at all of it. Media access, looking at all of it. 

He’s done a nice job in practice. There is a lot of excitement about him. 

JAMES ON PLAYING 2 QBS

Well, considering we’ve already done that this year, I don’t totally understand the question, but each circumstance is kind of on its own. Again, whatever is going to give us the best chance to be 1-0 this week. 

JAMES ON BALANCING CURRENT SUCCESS WITH THE FUTURE OF PENN STATE FOOTBALL

A big reason many want Allar to start over Sean Clifford is that they feel playing the true freshman would benefit the program’s future more than sticking with the sixth-year senior. 

For Franklin, it’s important to balance winning games now with getting Penn State ready for 2023 and beyond. 

“I think I have a responsibility to the guys in the locker room, as well as the coaches, to give us the best chance to win as many games as we possibly can,” Franklin said. 

“What you would like to do at the same time is getting better and building for your future. I hope that you can do those two things together. I don’t think they’re exclusive of one another.”

“Obviously, there are going to be a lot of factors that play into that that will allow you to maybe prepare for the future a little bit more, but I just think there is a balance between the two. I think there is a balance between the two.”

“For me, I think you guys know, we’ve said it enough, but ultimately, I’ve got to do what’s best for Penn State to be 1-0 this weekend.”

“Again, when I say that, that’s not me making this decision on my own. It’s making sure I’ve talked to enough people, and not just at the quarterback position, but every position. That nobody is making decisions in a silo by themselves.”

“No one is determining the defensive end or defensive tackle reps on their own. It’s a discussion with the defensive staff and then myself as well. So, you’re trying to factor all those things in. The plan is to be able to do both at the same time, which isn’t always perfect or ideal, but that’s what you’re trying to do.”

ON IF ITS HARDER TO GET QBS EXPERIENCE THAN PLAYERS AT OTHER POSITIONS

Yes, because, to your point, other positions, you do more rotation, no doubt about it. You get guys in and out. I think that’s a fair point. 

It’s harder to do, and that’s why the practice reps and experience is so important. Then also the number of games that you’re able to get your backups into the game, which we’ve done. We’ve been able to do that a decent amount this year. Hopefully, we can continue to do that. 

ON THE EXPERIENCE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLIFFORD AND ALLAR

Clifford has been playing college football for six years and is in his fourth season as Penn State’s regular QB and team captain. 

Allar is still a baby in the college football world, only in Year 1. 

Naturally, this could play a big role in the decision-making process, but Franklin said that’s not the case at Penn State this year.

“That really hasn’t factored into any of the discussions we have had,” Franklin said. “Sean has earned that (the captaincy) through the players’ vote and how he’s conducted himself all off-season; so have the rest of the captains. 

But then there is still a responsibility for doing your job at a high level. I think that’s the thing that I don’t know if everybody recognizes because I understand the emotion and passion and all that kind of stuff. 

If you go back and watch the tape, the guy played his tail off and made some really good plays in (against Ohio State) and made some really good plays in the previous game (against Minnesota), which I think I came in here and talked to you guys about. He made two throws in the (Minnesota) game, as good as I’ve seen him make since he’s been here. 

Obviously, four-to-six plays (against Ohio State) we’ve got to get rid of. 

That was not part of the discussion of what you just brought up.”

ON TALKING WITH CLIFFORD POST-OHIO STATE

Clifford turned the ball over four times– three interceptions and a lost fumble– against, and Franklin mentioned the impact those turnovers had after the game. 

Franklin said Clifford asked him Sunday about meeting with him Monday.

That meeting hadn’t happened as of Tuesday afternoon.

“He did come up to me on Sunday and wanted to talk to me on Monday,” Franklin said. “We haven’t had that conversation yet.”

JAMES ON WHAT’S IMPRESSIVE ABOUT ALLAR

Yeah, probably some of the stuff that you guys have seen out at practice. It’s funny; I remember standing there with (Fox College Football Analyst) Joel Klatt. I think it may have been before the Purdue game. Joel watched five or six throws, and Drew’s a giant human being (6-foot-5, 238 pounds) with a quick release that can get the ball out and make all the throws. 

So he’s got tremendous arm talent. Some guys that are big, strong-armed guys are not very accurate. He has shown to be accurate. He’s thrown from different launch points and angles. For a young kid, and I think Sean has been a big part of this, he’s doing a really good job of preparing. 

I really think that whole quarterback room is as well. Those guys are really working hard and preparing the right way, probably more so than maybe other quarterback rooms I’ve had in the past. They have done a good job and Drew has been a big part of that. 

I think I told you guys before probably Sean’s superpower is how he studies the game and understands protection and the run game. So, him in meetings and some of the dialog and discussion with (offensive coordinator) Mike (Yurcich) and the young quarterbacks, I think, has been really valuable for those guys. 

He’s doing a lot of things well. Again, he’s still a true freshman. 

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