James Franklin is in his 10th season as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions and many fans are calling for it to be his last. If Penn State lost to Rutgers today then the administration might have been forced to move on, despite his massive contract.
Even a decade in, Franklin demonstrated that he is still willing to learn new tricks. Last week, Sherrone Moore and Michigan did not attempt a pass in the entire second half. The 37-year-old Moore has never been a full-time head coach, but Franklin took a page out of his book today, running the ball down the throat of an inferior team.
Drew Allar left the game early in the second half with what appears to be a shoulder injury, so redshirt freshman Beau Pribula came in. Pribula has gotten some playing time this season as a change-of-pace gadget quarterback because of his rushing ability. So, Franklin and first-time co-offensive coordinators Ty Howle and Ja’Juan Seider, leaned on Pribula’s legs to pull away from Rutgers.
The lead was just 10-6 at halftime with Drew Allar only completing six of his 13 passes for 79 yards before getting knocked out of the game. Then, Pribula took over and the Nittany Lions cruised to a 27-6 win.
Pribula finished the game 1-1 for nine yards. The passing game was non-existent, but that was the case with Allar anyways. The rushing attack got a huge boost with the change and that was the difference in the game. Pribula ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and the Nittany Lions finished with 234 rushing yards.
The second half revealed something that in hindsight has been obvious all season. Penn State’s offense doesn’t fit Drew Allar and Drew Allar doesn’t fit the Penn State offense. That’s why Mike Yurcich was fired last week, but this offseason, either the philosophy or the quarterback will need to change in Happy Valley.
Pribula looked like he was doing a Trace McSorley impression, especially wearing No. 9, but he forgot to include the downfield passing. Don’t get fooled by this result, Drew Allar is the better quarterback, but for the offense that Franklin and Yurcich built, Pribula is the better fit.
That’s both good news for Allar, that the ceiling may still be higher if the offense changes, and bad news for Penn State, that Franklin employed an offensive coordinator that did nothing to exemplify the strengths of his five-star sophomore quarterback.
It’ll likely be another 10-win season for Franklin regardless of who plays quarterback against Michigan State next week, but if Franklin doesn’t hire the right OC, then he should suffer the same fate as Yurcich.