There is little doubt that Drew Allar has been creating a buzz in the Penn State community these last two weeks.
Enthusiasm around Allar started with a flash during a drive against Purdue, and picked up steam with his two-touchdown performance in the second half against Ohio.
The call for change would have been loud, had the Nittany Lions fell to the Boilermakers, because of Clifford’s interception that was returned for a touchdown, and especially had he not led a game-winning drive.
However, he did, and played well against Ohio.
So far, Clifford hasn’t given many reasons to lose his job to Allar, regardless of what the fans want.
Penn State Football vs. Auburn could be Sean Clifford inflection point
This week against Auburn should be a huge test for both Clifford and the Penn State Football coaching staff on what the team will do at quarterback for the rest of the season.
If Penn State Football looks dominant and exits Auburn with a big win, the quarterback controversy will be quelled quite dramatically. At least in the short term.
The question many were asking after this past weekend was, why aren’t the Lions starting Allar?
This doesn’t mean that Clifford hasn’t played relatively well these past few weeks. In fact, he showed flashes of brilliance against Ohio, including a tight touchdown pass late in the first half.
The issue many fans have had is that there simply just isn’t much excitement with Clifford.
Often, the sixth-year senior seems rattled with pressure in the pocket, something you shouldn’t expect to see from a veteran player. This is the opposite of Allar, who has seemed calm and collected every time he has been on the field.
Many Penn State Football fans are realistic in knowing that this season, this team isn’t going to attend for a Big Ten championship or Playoff Berth.
The Nittany Lions have a lot of young players playing including many freshmen getting significant snaps. A 9-3 season is considered by many to be a successful one. And, maybe if everything broke right 10-2.
In that case, Why not play Allar, and get him some real snaps in tough environments?
The former five-star and top-ranked quarterback has looked loose on the sidelines, and doesn’t look at all overwhelmed on the field when given the opportunity.
Allar also just gives an excitement to this team at the quarterback position that we haven’t experienced since Trace McSorley. If Clifford and Allar are similar in talent level, then there is no reason to not play the younger player.
I understand that head coach James Franklin feels like he owes it to Clifford for everything he has done for the program. But, at a certain point, you must play the better player.
Just look what happened last game when freshman running back Nick Singleton finally got the bulk of the snaps. He rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
It makes sense to play Allar. And continuing to play Clifford offers the Nittany Lions no more upside for this season. Nor does it help build for the future.
That brings us back to the Auburn matchup.
There is an idea out there that the team should just continue to roll with Clifford until they are out of the conference title race and playoff contention.
Many are afraid to start Allar this week in a tough road SEC matchup, and feel he may get overwhelmed. I would argue that this is the perfect time to see exactly what you have in Allar and a great learning experience either way.
The sooner Allar gets in at the beginning of the season, the more he can learn, and grow by the time the 2022 campaign comes to a close, and he officially becomes the starting quarterback of the program.
Rather than wait for the Nittany Lions to be out of contention, why not start Allar in big games? That way, by season’s end, we will be able to evaluate how he has handled big environments. Better to do it in 2022 with a young roster than in 2023 when the expectations will be higher.
An 8-4 season with Allar playing and getting better does more for the future of this program than a 9-3 season with Sean Clifford.
There is also the possibility that Allar ends up offering more upside and the team goes 10-2 with a full steam of momentum heading into next season.
We most likely won’t see Allar this week, unless there is an injury, or the game gets out of hand in one direction.
If Clifford doesn’t play well, I think the job should be handed over to Allar and let him learn and grow.
It doesn’t help the program every time Clifford makes a mistake and at the end of the day Penn State fans should be focused on the future.