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‘He’s Really not Focused on Those Things’: Penn State QB Drew Allar has Sights on Illinois, Not Spotlight

Drew Allar leaves the pocket and looks to evade a Blue Hen defender.

It seems that everybody wants to talk about Penn State QB Drew Allar. 

This has been magnified since Allar made his first college start in Penn State’s Week 1 win over West Virginia, but its been going on since Allar was still in high school.

Allar came to Penn State as a five-star recruit and the top-rated QB in his class, so, yeah, his arrival was a big deal, and the hype has only grown since. 

So how is Allar dealing with all the attention?

“I do most of my talking on the field as opposed to off the field,” Allar told reporters via Zoom Tuesday. “That’s just kind of how I am.”

His head coach loves this mindset. 

During his weekly Tuesday presser, James Franklin was asked about the the leadership aspect of Allar’s role, considering he’s not somebody who lives for the spotlight. 

Franklin feels this trait is something that’s allowing Allar to have the success he’s had through the first two games of 2023. 

“He’s really not focused on those things,” Franklin said. “He’s focused on preparing to be the best quarterback. And to be honest with you, we’re not asking that of him in year one. We want him to focus on doing his job to the best of his ability.”

Franklin acknowledged that being the center of attention is part of a QBs job, but Penn State isn’t worried about Allar being the face of Penn State football away from the field. 

“I think he’s spending all his time and energy on how can he be the best quarterback for Penn State,” Franklin said, “and we’re not asking that of him.”

Franklin said this is similar to how the program handled things two years ago when Allar’s predecessor at starting, QB, Sean Clifford, started working with then-first year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. 

“I don’t think we took Sean Clifford, if I remember correctly, we didn’t take him to Big Ten Media Day,” Franklin said. “I wanted him focused on just doing his job that year.”

Allar’s doing Clifford’s old job quite well early on. 

Threw two games, Allar’s 43-for-55 with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. 

“So, he’s doing a nice job,” Franklin said, “and I think he’s doing a nice job of focusing on the things that matter most right now.”

This week, the thing that matters most for Penn State is beating Illinois. 

This game is significant for a few reasons. 

Illinois is the first FBS team Penn State’s played this season that finished with a winning record in 2022. 

It’s also the Big Ten opener for both schools and, for Allar, his first road start. 

Franklin and Allar have been preparing for this for some time. 

“We expect it to be a challenging road environment,” Franklin said, “but we didn’t wait until this week to prepare for that. Whether it’s crowd noise or whatever it may be, we’ve done that all training camp. Obviously, we’ll major in it this week as well.”

Unsurpsingly, Franklin didn’t make any predictions for Allar’s first road test. 

He did say that Allar is “Doing all the right things in terms of preparation, watching film, nutrition, hydration, sleep, getting more confident with his leadership role on the team.”

“It’s hard for me to sit here and tell you what he will be like and what we will be like in these situations until we’ve been through them,” Franklin said. “For us, it’s do everything we possibly can to prepare as a team, and specifically for Drew as well. To get him as prepared as we possibly can for what it will be like to be on the road.”

Franklin mentioned that he feels Allar’s unexpectd debut on the road against Purdue last year “was helpful.” 

In the third quarter, with Penn State ahead 21-17, Allar briefly relieved Clifford, going 2-for-4 with 26 yards.

Overall, Franklin wants to wake up Saturday morning feeling that the program did everything it could to be ready for this week’s chance to go 1-0.

“You know, most importantly, I want to make sure by Friday night, when we’re going to bed, we’ve done everything we possibly can to have him and the team prepared to go play and play well,” he said. 

 

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