STATE COLLEGE, PA. — This wasn’t the typical Penn State–Rutgers blowout many have come to expect.
Here are my initial thoughts after No. 12 Penn State’s 27-6 win against Rutgers.
1. Drew Allar’s exit raises questions about what comes next for this offense.
Allar exited the game early in the third quarter with an apparent right upper-body injury. Penn State’s starting quarterback took a hard hit after an 8-yard run and stayed on the field for one more play. On that next play, he dropped back to pass and looked uncomfortable as he lobbed the ball away for an incompletion. He immediately grabbed at and flexed his right arm and shoulder.
Allar didn’t play another snap and was replaced by Beau Pribula. Allar completed 6-of-13 passes for 79 yards. He remained on the sideline the rest of the game, but when he tried to raise his right arm above his chest, he kept wincing and was unable to do so. The quarterback’s health to his throwing arm becomes a huge storyline as Penn State heads to Detroit to wrap up the regular season against Michigan State.
Drew Allar appears to be in quite a bit of pain. Just watched him try and lift his right arm up to his chest and he was unable to.
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) November 18, 2023
2. Pribula capitalizes on his moment.
The Pribula package returned after being shelved since the Maryland game. When Allar was healthy late in the first quarter, Penn State put Pribula on the field, and he gained 4 yards. Penn State didn’t go back to that package.
But when Pribula was called on to lead the offense after Allar’s injury with the Nittany Lions leading 10-6, the backup stepped up. On the first play without Allar, Pribula ripped off a 39-yard run. Penn State’s offense stalled, and the Nittany Lions bypassed a field goal opportunity and instead were stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the Rutgers 4. Penn State went with back-to-back quarterback keepers on third and fourth down.
Pribula’s mobility is what we’ve heard about all offseason and throughout the season as Penn State teased his specialty role. What he showed during the most extensive — and the most meaningful — playing time of his Penn State career helps build his case as an intriguing option. Keep in mind that Pribula did the bulk of his damage with his legs.
He completed his only pass with 5:17 to play for 9 yards, but he led the team with 71 yards rushing (on eight carries).
3. Kaytron Allen needs to be the featured back.
Allen and Nick Singleton continue to work in tandem, but Allen again was the more productive and more reliable back for most of the game. Singleton’s lost fumble in the second quarter was another unflattering moment for the player who entered the season with sky-high expectations but just hasn’t looked himself for most of the year.
It remains clear that Allen is the more dynamic and more powerful of the two. Allen carried the ball 16 times for 69 yards. He ripped off a 20-yard run late. Allen’s 3-yard rushing touchdown with 14:14 left in the game gave Penn State a commanding 20-6 lead. Singleton finished with 11 carries for 61 yards.
So, will Penn State default back to a rotation next week, or has Allen shown enough to carry the load?
4. Penn State’s defensive ends again prove to be a handful.
Dani Dennis-Sutton’s fumble recovery in the second quarter helped lead to a Penn State field goal. Defensive end Chop Robinson — who likely was playing in his final game in Beaver Stadium as his NFL Draft stock continues to rise — drilled Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt late in the third quarter and produced the game-changing moment. Robinson forced and recovered Wimsatt’s fumble, and Penn State turned the recovery into Allen’s fourth-quarter touchdown.
Rutgers threatened to reach the end zone a few times and reached the Penn State 7 twice, but both times penalties led to stalled drives. On both of those trips, the Scarlet Knights settled for field goals.
(Photo of Dani Dennis-Sutton, left, and Coziah Izzard: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)