Beau Pribula’s Legs Propel Penn State Football To Victory Over Rutgers
Penn State’s passing game was once again virtually nonexistent in the first half of Saturday’s game. In the first half of the contest with Rutgers, quarterback Drew Allar produced a measly six completions on 12 passing attempts for 79 yards.
Allar’s problems got a lot worse, though, when he began to lean on his rushing abilities. On the Nittany Lions’ first drive of the second half, Allar took off on a 2nd-and-4 up the middle. Allar cleared the first down marker by three yards before taking a shot from Rutgers’ Flip Dixon.
Allar got up, composed himself, and walked back to the huddle. After breaking the huddle, Allar got set, snapped the ball, and immediately turned and fired the ball over the head of Omari Evans and into the sideline. It was clear right away something was wrong.
Before the pass even hit the ground, Allar was trotting off the field as backup Beau Pribula entered to take the starter’s place. Once he arrived on the sideline, Allar tentatively walked towards the medical tent.
“What he’s really done the whole season is get as many yards as he can and get down,” James Franklin said postgame. “In that situation, he was about to get down and somebody flashed from behind another player and got to him and hit him just right.”
Allar has been slowly leaning into the running game and finished second on the team in rushing yards against Michigan. For every improvement, though, there was a step back. Last week, Allar fumbled the ball at a pivotal time in the game after deciding to run. This week, the same decision took him out of the game.
Until Allar’s exit, the run game was the only offensive tactic that was working and Pribula’s entrance provided another rusher for the Scarlet Knights to defend.
“Pribula came in and really did a great job, especially with his legs,” Franklin said. “[He] gave us a little bit more diversity in the running game, which I thought was really helpful.”
Coming into Saturday’s matchup, most of Pribula’s contributions had been on the ground in garbage time. The York, Pennsylvania, native threw only seven completions for 81 yards before Saturday but had amassed 240 yards on the ground. In fact, Pribula was brought in for one play early in the game that saw both Allar and Pribula remain on the field in a two-quarterback set. Allar lined up wide with Pribula under center in what looked like it could’ve been a trick play, but Pribula ended up running up the middle for a gain of four yards.
Even though Rutgers could’ve assumed that Pribula was going to run, he still made a defender miss and ran 39 yards up the middle on his first play after taking over.
“I think it was super important to have an explosive play like that just to set the tone,” Pribula said. “I saw a crease and just kind of ran to the right.”
Pribula threw just once during the 27-6 victory — he hit Tyler Warren behind the line of scrimmage with less than six minutes left in the game. Warren grabbed the pass and ran for nine yards, but the Nittany Lions went right back to the running game.
Despite one pass good for nine yards, Pribula says that Franklin had complete trust in him to throw if he needed to. The time just never came.
“We were ready to throw the ball today. We got some shots out, we got passes that I just ended up running on,” Pribula said. “I’m really comfortable throwing the ball, it just so happened that no, we didn’t throw it as much today.”
Pribula finished first in rushing yards despite entering the game in the third quarter. The backup finished with 71 yards on eight attempts for an average of 8.9 yards per carry. Kaytron Allen, who finished second on the team in rushing yards with 69, averaged 4.3.
With the change at offensive coordinator made on Sunday, Penn State was already facing uncertainty heading into a bounce-back game with completely new leadership on the offensive side of the ball. Pribula, however, believes that the change made the team tougher and more well-equipped to handle the mid-game quarterback change.
“Nobody flinched, and I think it shows how tough this group is, mentally and physically,” Pribula said. “I think we all kind of rally around our leaders and everyone in the locker room. They do a great job of getting everyone in the locker room and making sure everyone is locked in every week.”
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About the Author
Kotelnicki has everything he needs to succeed at Penn State. Can he break the Nittany Lions’ trend of flops at the offensive coordinator position?
Most of our staffers have Penn State playing in the Peach Bowl for the first time in program history.
The Nittany Lions are now 11-0 all time against the Bulldogs.