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‘Blue-White Practice’ Another Step In The Right Direction For Penn State’s Quarterbacks

Penn State football took the field at Beaver Stadium in front of fans Saturday afternoon for the first time in well over a year.

There were 7,521 fans in attendance for the Blue-White practice, as it was made up of players’ parents and first-year students at University Park. The crowd saw Penn State’s quarterbacks on full display today, which included some highlight plays from the group.

Sean Clifford, Ta’Quan Roberson, and Christian Veilleux all scored at least one touchdown, while run-on signal-caller Mason Stahl got some reps as well. Head coach James Franklin spoke after the practice about the progress Clifford has made this spring.

“The quarterback work is important,” Franklin said. “I think Sean’s done some really good things this spring. I think Mike [Yurcich] has really been impressed from what I’ve seen in terms of Sean’s approach. That’s really important to Sean. He works really hard at it. He prepares like you’re supposed to prepare.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich echoed what Franklin said and is impressed with Clifford’s eagerness to improve.

“He prepares like a pro,” Yurcich said. “I really like his preparation, I like his passion. He brings a lot of emotion. It’s impressive to see him care so much about wanting to get better, wanting to win, competing every day. Everything’s important to him.”

To no one’s surprise, Clifford was the first-team quarterback Saturday afternoon and did a solid job of moving the offense down the field. While he did throw an interception to freshman standout Kalen King, QB1 found the end zone on the day with a long touchdown to tight end Brenton Strange.

Clifford’s approach that Franklin and Yurcich speak so highly about is quite simple — he’s just working on making strides every single day and keeping his focus.

“How can I make this the best Saturday practice of the year?” Clifford said.

He continued, saying that the same goes for any practice. He wants this Monday’s practice to be his best Monday practice of the year, and the same goes for every other day as well.

Franklin spoke about his three other quarterbacks — Roberson, Veilleux, and Stahl — and how they’re “three inexperienced guys who need 1,000 reps.” When it comes to Roberson and Veilleux, it’s about understanding the game plan and then going out and making plays.

“Both Ta’Quan and Christian both showed some really good flashes of understanding what we’re trying to do, how to operate the offense the way Mike wants it run,” Franklin said. “Then also, the ability to make some plays and have the vision to read a defense and then deliver a throw.

“Ta’Quan this spring has probably had as many of those kinda ‘wow’ throws as anybody,” Franklin added. “Sean’s had a bunch of them, Ta’Quan’s had a bunch of them, and Christian has as well.”

Additionally, Franklin emphasized the lack of game reps for Roberson and Veilleux as one of the biggest challenges for the two quarterbacks. However, the coach said playing in Beaver Stadium in front of a crowd was important for both of them, as it gives them a game-like experience that isn’t just like a normal practice.

Being the only quarterback on the roster with legitimate in-game experience, Clifford has helped the inexperienced Roberson and Veilleux by giving them some of the knowledge he’s gained. Clifford thinks the two young quarterbacks are coming along as the group attempts to take the next step.

“I think they’re both doing a great job, Clifford said. “I think our quarterback room is trying to take that next step and continuing to push each other, learn from mistakes. I think that’s the thing that we have to grow the most with two guys who haven’t played too much football in-game.”

Clifford said it’s important that when watching film from 2019 or 2020, that the two of them put themselves in his shoes and act like they’re the ones who were on the field. Obviously there’s no replacement for the real thing, but Clifford said he’ll explain his mindset to them when watching film so they can try to see it themselves.

For Veilleux, the Canadian came to Penn State this winter as an early enrollee and has opened eyes early on. Yurcich explained that Veilleux is going through the typical ups and downs of a young quarterback, and the key is to develop some consistency moving forward.

“He had a good day today I thought from a mental standpoint,” Yurcich said. “It’s some good days, it’s some better days, it goes up and down right now. That’s to be expected from with a young guy. But we gotta eliminate the bad days…I would like to see a back-to-back good practice. He had a good practice today, I’d like to see another one Monday.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a junior majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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