Drew Allar hasn’t had much go wrong in his brief time as the Penn State starting QB.
Through two weeks, he was 43-55 for 412 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
It must be said that Allar and Penn State played those two games against West Virginia, a Power Five program that’s been mediocre at best over the past five years, and Delaware, an FCS school.
Both of those games were in the confines of Beaver Stadium as well. So Saturday’s game against Illinois gave Allar and Penn State a different kind of test. It was Penn State’s Big Ten opener and first road game of the season, and the first time Allar’s ever started in either of those situations.
It would be fair to call Penn State’s 30-13 win ugly, due to issues such as dropped passes and penalties.
To say Allar had an ugly game might be a little harsh.
Allar didn’t have his No. 2 receiver in Trey Wallace, who was out with an injury. The man starting in place of Wallace, Malik McClain, dropped two passes that would have been first downs. Illinois’ defense, especially All-American candidate Je’rzhan Newton also made life tough for Drew Allar. Allar also hit Liam Clifford for a 33-yard pass in the last minute in the first half that was as big-time or more so than any he’s made in his Penn State career thus far.
Allar also didn’t turn the ball over, which pleased coach James Franklin.
But Allar ended the day throwing more incompletions than completions. He went 16-for-33 and his 17 incompletions were more than he had combined in his first two starts (12).
For Franklin, Allar’s first road start will be a big learning experience.
“He’s kind of kept his cool,” Franklin told reporters in his postgame presser. “He’s pretty ‘steady Eddy’ and poised. We did have some drops that made it harder than it needed to be. Obviously we didn’t have Trey Wallace today, so getting him back will be important for us, but then other guys have to step as well.”
By now, Allar’s almost certainly dove into the Illinois film, and he was excited about doing that after the game.
”Nothing has been perfect so far,” he said. “I’m looking forward to watching the film and getting to see what I might have missed and where we could be better as an offense. We’re looking forward with a positive mindset. We talk about it all the time: It’s never as good as you think and it’s never as bad as you think it is.”
That last line sums up why Franklin falls Allar “steady Eddy.”
Penn State’s top running back felt Allar went about his business.
“He handled it really well, Nicholas Singleton told reporters after the game. “Drew, obviously, is a mature player. He’s a good quarterback. You give credit to Illinois; their defense is really good.”
Penn State has nine regular-season games left. So Allar and the boys have plenty of time to clean things up.
“He’ll learn from this,” Franklin said, “we’ll learn from this. It’ll be great tape to evaluate, and we’ll get better.”