When Drew Allar spoke to reporters in a pre-Peach Bowl press conference, he was asked what he saw from the Ole Miss defense on tape. His answer foreshadowed exactly how the game would play out with Penn State’s wide receivers completely shut down.
“As far as their secondary, they've got two really good corners. Safeties are really rangy too. Their corners are impressive. They have a good ability to fall off on routes, pretty savvy, and they've got both pretty good length. With length usually comes tightness, but that's not the case with these corners. They've got really good length and speed, so they're able to track different routes and play the ball really well in the air.”
Those lengthy corners that Allar mentioned are Deantre Prince and Zamari Walton and both were excellent in the Peach Bowl. Through three quarters, Penn State’s wide receivers didn’t record a single catch and were only targetted once.
Harrison Wallace III returned to the field for the Nittany Lions for the first time since October 28, against Indiana, but was a non-factor. On Saturday, Tyler Warren, Theo Johnson, and Nick Singleton were the best pass-catchers for Penn State, but judging from his comments on Thursday, Allar wasn’t surprised.
Allar finished his comment on the secondary saying, “It's going to be very important just to make sure I see in front of wherever I'm throwing and don't let those guys get shots on the receiver or make a play on the ball.”
When Allar did take a chance on a downfield throw for the first time in the game, he did give the rangy secondary a shot and they took advantage. Ole Miss safety Daijahn Anthony intercepted a deep ball intended for Omari Evans in the second quarter.
The Nittany Lions' first drive of the game was fueled by Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen but stalled in the red zone when Allar targetted Wallace and it played out like the quarterback’s pregame premonition.
When asked about which players stand out on the defense, Allar said, “Really just both the corners in general, especially down in the red zone. They use their bigger frame well and jam the receivers pretty well. Yeah, the corners are really impressive for sure.”
Penn State had to settle for a field goal and Allar wouldn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until the final quarter of the game.
The wide receiver position has been a huge issue all season long and it burned James Franklin’s team in the final game of the year. This lackluster performance may motivate Franklin to make a big splash in the transfer portal after the New Year.