UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State’s future appears to be in good hands.
His present can be too.
The Nittany Lions entered their home opener Saturday, thrashing Ohio University 46-10 before 107,306 at Beaver Stadium.
The stars were a pair of freshmen – tailback Nick Singleton and quarterback Drew Allar.
Singleton electrified the stadium as he rushed for 179 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns — a 70-yard rush to put the Lions up 14-0 and a blazing 44-yard third-quarter rush that made it 40-7.
In between, he snatched a 48-yarder to open the second half, which thankfully ended the Lions’ 17-game streak without a 100-yard rusher, dating back to Michigan 2020.
Ironically, the last 100-yard rusher so far was this year’s starting running back, Keyvone Lee, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass last week at Purdue but got a run Saturday for zero yards.
James Franklin wasn’t quite ready to anoint Singleton – ‘we’ll watch the movie,’ he said – but neither did he challenge the breakaway threat that the Lions had lacked for several years ,
“He (Nick) can go 80 (meters) at any time,” Franklin said.
Each of Singleton’s big runs came off the right edge, which must have meant the blocking on that side, between Caeden Wallace, Bryce Effner, Brenton Strange and Sal Wormley, was effective.
Franklin, however, gave Singleton most of the credit.
“He has such good speed that maybe in years past when the reading was murky and you wanted to bounce it, we didn’t always have the speed to take advantage like he did,” he said. he declares.
As Singleton “blinked” (words by Sean Clifford), Allar was once again quite impressive, throwing for a pair of touchdown passes – one a magnificent 32-yard post pattern to Omari Evans and the other after being out of a sack and shooting a 28-yard score to Khalil Dinkins.
Like Singleton, he made the Nittany Nation say wow.
“He’s just super balanced,” Franklin said of Allar. “For a youngster, the game already seems slow.
Allar completed 6 of 8 for 88 yards and both scores. He was precise, kept his eyes on the pitch, bought time and showed he could handle himself.
“He’s 6-5, 242 pounds – he’s bigger than half the guys chasing him,” Franklin said. “They must also respect it in the read (run) zone game. It’s not Trace McSorley, but it keeps people honest.
Franklin said the plan was to have Allar play a series in the second and third quarters, but it didn’t work out that way.
Instead, he played four series in the second half, and Christian Veilleux got the last two.
Clifford completed 19 of 27 for 213 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a stealthy quarterback.
The sixth-year senior took the company’s line on building depth, even at the cost of his snap number.
“I know how important it is to get guys ready, and it was great to get Drew and CV involved,” Clifford said. “We all want to succeed (individually). But we want the team to win.
He added: “2020 was not Penn State and 7-6 (last year) is not our norm. We want to win every game this year.
The Lions were hampered last year by their lack of quarterbacking depth as Clifford’s injury in Iowa sent the season into a downward spiral.
“The only thing that matters to me is winning football games,” Clifford said. “I know how important it is to get reps from these guys because if anything happens to me.
The Lions had 17 players who caught a pass on Saturday — a school record — and 24 players showed up on the defensive stat sheet.
Franklin knows he has decisions to make, but he’s in no rush to make them.
The Nittany Lions are 2-0, and while it’s not college football’s biggest surprise, the way they’ve played so far – getting a road win at Purdue and blowing the Ohio U – gets them back on the national radar.
And if you’re looking for optimism beyond this year, having a quarterback and tailback that both look like NFL talent is a place to start.
Rudel can be reached at 814-946-7527 or [email protected]