UNIVERSITY PARK — At Penn State or anywhere else, a backup quarterback’s job seems easy until they’re pushed into emergency duty in a moment’s notice.
There usually aren’t many reps in practice for the second string, and QB coaches have prepared with the starter all week.
But Beau Pribula certainly aced the test he was given when Drew Allar had to exit Saturday’s game in the third quarter with an injury. Pribula finished with 71 yards rushing on eight carries with a score in a 27-6 win over Rutgers Senior Day at Beaver Stadium.
It wasn’t the easiest time for a backup quarterback to be called into duty. Penn State’s just six days removed from the firing of Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator and QBs coach. But despite the removal of Yurcich and the promotion of offensive analyst Danny O’Brien to quarterbacks coach, Pribula said it was still a normal week of preparation.
“The change happened, but I don’t think anybody flinched,” Pribula said. “I think that was really important. The whole offensive coaching staff created a great gameplan.”
And yeah, about that gameplan.
Many will say, ‘It’s only Rutgers,’ and they’re far from the elites of the Big Ten. But Rutgers doesn’t have a terrible defense, either. That unit ranks fifth in the Big Ten in total yards given up. But they’re also 10th in rush defense, which was where Penn State exploited Rutgers the most.
Penn State ran for 235 yards with Pribula leading the way. Penn State didn’t need to throw the ball that much, but Pribula also completed the only pass he threw — a 9-yard dumpoff to tight end Tyler Warren.
“Beau Pribula came in and really did a great job, specifically with his legs,” PSU coach James Franklin said in his postgame presser. “He gave us a little bit more diversity in the running game, which was helpful for us.”
Pribula saw a little bit of action in the first half, but needed to assume the starter role after Allar, coincidentally, took a shot after an 8-yard gain on a QB draw. Allar’s next pass was an errant throw on a screen pass and he never returned to the field. Allar was seen grimacing while flexing his arm on the sideline.
But Pribula said nobody batted an eye in the huddle when his number was called.
“There was a moment of concern for Drew, but then it’s next man up,” offensive tackle Olu Fashanu said. “Bo has earned our trust.”
“Bo has always been ready for the moment,” tight end Theo Johnson said. “He came into the huddle and said, ‘I got you guys.’ Everyone has tremendous respect and trust for him.”
And as for the new staff changes with Ja’Juan Seider and Ty Howle splitting the offensive coordinator duties?
“I thought both Ja’Juan and Ty did a really nice job all week long, not only from an organizational standpoint, but also from a leadership standpoint,” Franklin said.
Whether Pribula will be the guy when Penn State goes to Detroit to face Michigan State on a short week on Friday night remains to be seen, but Franklin said he doesn’t think Allar’s injury is going to be a significant one. In any case, Penn State may need him again, especially if PSU gets a premier bowl game with an Alabama, a Washington or even an Oregon or Mississippi.
But the wrinkles that the new offensive staff came up with for Pribula Saturday that needed to be moved to a permanent gameplan should be notable for this season and beyond.
Andy Stine can be reached at email@example.com. He can be followed on X at @RiseAndStine.