Drew Allar’s Road Struggles Continue In Loss To Ohio State
During his first start, in what was supposed to be his rise to Penn State stardom, quarterback Drew Allar threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. A few weeks later, Allar threw four touchdowns against Iowa but hasn’t cracked 250 yards since his first game.
Allar has struggled on the road so far this season, which was cause for concern ahead of the young quarterback’s first trip to a truly hostile environment in Ohio Stadium.
It didn’t go well.
Allar completed just 42.9% of his passes for 191 yards and a consolation touchdown in Columbus during the Nittany Lions’ 20-12 loss to the Buckeyes. If Allar was going to become the superstar that all of Happy Valley desperately needed him to be, this was his chance. He missed it.
Failure is often hard to admit, and finding someone else to shoulder the blame is always the easier route to take. Allar, however, didn’t take that route.
“I sucked,” Allar said while trying to maintain his composure.
The loss took its toll on the whole locker room, but no one was hit harder than Allar. The reason why he’s taking the loss so hard, though? His teammates.
“We’ve been grinding since last January,” Allar said. “It sucks so badly that we couldn’t pull through for some of the older guys in our program.”
One such player is Olu Fashanu, a left tackle who came back to Penn State instead of heading to the NFL Draft, where he was projected to be a first-round talent. Fashanu sees the maturity that Allar has and knows the quarterback will become a leader once he’s gone.
“That’s the type of guy you want to lead an offense,” Fashanu said. “For him to say something like that shows how much of a leader he is at the young age he’s at.”
While Allar blames himself, it’s offensive playcalling, wide receivers who can’t find separation, and an offensive line that didn’t give him time to throw that are all much bigger pieces to the puzzle.
The lack of options at the wide receiver position is perhaps the biggest reason for Allar’s struggles. While Franklin maintained that his team was going to stick to its identity of mid-yardage runs and short passes, Allar attempted to throw the ball deep multiple times, something the Nittany Lions haven’t done consistently this season.
Allar looked for KeAndre Lambert-Smith 12 times during the loss but connected on only six. The wide receiver inefficiency has also been a concern for the Nittany Lions, but the magnitude was unclear until Saturday.
Against UMass, Allar started to attempt some deep shots but didn’t have any passing plays over 30 yards. Franklin once again strayed from the offense’s “ground and pound” identity on Saturday and paid the price.
“[Mike] Yurcich had us in some very nice play calls, some that we’re gonna want back as a player because we just didn’t go out and execute,” Allar said. “We have to figure out why we didn’t execute and then learn from it.”
Incompletions from the Nittany Lion offense led to the offense being stuck in obvious passing downs. Even when Franklin and offensive coordinator Yurcich tried to be somewhat unconventional, most notably running the ball on a 3rd-and-5 from the Ohio State 23-yard line, they failed.
“I think there are some things that we can do in terms of how we’re calling the plays, and I think there are some things that we need to do from a fundamental standpoint, there’s no doubt about it,” Franklin said. “But Drew needs some guys to make some plays for him on a more consistent basis.”
Despite watching Penn State drop games to both Michigan and Ohio State last year, Allar says he hasn’t felt this way in a long time. The gunslinger likened his current emotions to that of his last high school game but reveled in the fact that, unlike his last high school game, this season is not yet over.
Allar’s teammates have described him as a quiet presence in the locker room, one that leads by example rather than words. After Saturday’s loss, Allar said he is going to try his hardest to become the leader the team will need in the future.
“I’m just gonna do what’s right by the team no matter what,” Allar said. “I’m just gonna put the team first.”
At the end of the day, Penn State will bounce back. Allar is the clear embodiment of the mood in Saturday’s postgame locker room — upset, yet motivated.
Even though it looks bleak right now, Penn State’s season is far from over. The Nittany Lions still have a date with Michigan at Beaver Stadium in early November, and Ohio State has yet to play Michigan.
“We lost the game, but this is a lesson for us,” Allar said. “I never want to feel this way again.”
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