Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Notebook: WVU wanted to challenge Penn State QB Drew Allar, he wasn’t fazed

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — WVU head coach Neal Brown wanted to challenge Penn State starting quarterback Drew Allar on Saturday. Given Penn State’s effective running game and stout defense, applying pressure to Allar, a first-time starting sophomore, was not a bad plan.

Unfortunately Allar, a former five-star recruit, more than met the challenge, throwing for 325 yards anf three touchdowns on 21 of 28 passing in the Nittany Lions’ 38-15 victory.

“He got to him a couple of times but he also slid up and slid outside the pocket,” Brown said of Allar, “I thought the kid did a good job of moving left and throwing back right. Credit to him, we were going to make him play well and he played well.”

Allar showed poise from the word go. On PSU’s first drive of the game, he was able to avoid the WVU pass rush, keep his eyes down field and throw a 72-yard touchdown pass to receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith.

“I thought he did a really good job of managing the game from a decision-making standpoint,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “He was extremely poised…I was very pleased.”

Franklin praised WVU’s defensive game plan but said Allar was able to effectively counter it. 

“They were smart, they played a ton of cover zero,” Franklin said of the Mountaineers. “If you’re going to play a young quarterback, cover zero allows you to get more guys in the box we need to block in the run game or in protection and create a pressure situation for a quarterback. That’s a smart plan for a first-time starter, but Drew was able to execute the cover zero plan.”


The 110,747 fans who crowded into Beaver Stadium on Saturday made up the fourth-largest crowd in Penn State history. Despite the overwhelming road atmosphere, West Virginia handled it well.

“Clean football, we had five penalties,” Brown said. “Zero turnovers and I thought we managed the game well.”

The Mountaineers were whistled for just five penalties in the game and only one, an illegal shift, came before the snap.

“It’s an unbelievable environment,” WVU quarterback Garrett Greene said. “We prepared all week for the noise so I don’t think the noise was too much of a factor. I think our guys handled the environment really well.”

Getting Tricky

West Virginia called three trick plays on offense. Only one worked — a two-point conversion when the outcome was no longer in doubt — the other two failed and stalled out drives for WVU.

The first was a double-reverse pass on first down that saw Greene have nowhere to throw the ball and he had to try running for the conversion.

“I think we got a little bit fortunate on the double-reverse pass,” Franklin admitted. “I don’t think the receiver got the call because he was blocking and he was the only receiver on that play.”

The next was a fourth-down play in which backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol intended to throw the ball to a streaking Greene. However, Greene did not get far enough outside to get around a defender and Marchiol was ultimately sacked.

“We’re just having fun, man,” Brown said. “Nicco needs to play and we just didn’t get the motion far enough out. I knew they were going to go zero (coverage) and when you play zero coverage, nobody accounts for the quarterback. If he had gotten wider, we would’ve had a chance.”

“It was what we saw on film,” Green added. “I was supposed to go out and run a corner-flat concept. They covered me up pretty good so I just turned it into a block.”

Defensive Leader

For all the defensive standouts on Penn State’s side of the field, it was West Virginia linebacker Lee Kpogba who led the game with 13 total tackles.

“He’s the leader over there on defense — the emotional leader, the physicality leader,” Brown said. “I thought he played well.”

Kpogba had seven solo stops and 1.5 tackles for loss.

“He belonged,” Brown continued. “There were a bunch of really good defensive players out there wearing blue jerseys and we had a couple in white and he was one of them.”

Overall, WVU’s defense has four tackles for loss and a sack, but did not cause any turnovers and only broke up two passes.

“We definitely, as a defense, have to challenge routes more,” Kpogba said. “People were running free and that’s just not who we’re supposed to be.”

Running it up?

Franklin was criticized after the game online after Penn State’s backup offense hurried up to score one final touchdown with six seconds left in the game. All that touchdown did was change a 31-15 win into a 38-15 one.

Brown, however, was unbothered, saying he went for a two-point conversion and an onside kick late in the game and was also calling timeouts on defense.

“No, who cares,” he said. “I took time-outs. I wouldn’t have done it, but it doesn’t bother me. I just think stuff like that comes around and goes around. At some point, it’ll come back around. It doesn’t bother me, I’m not upset about it.”