No. 7 Penn State is looking to tighten up against FCS Delaware

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Drew Allar’s first start went well, but he knows he can be better.

Penn State’s quarterback got away with a few risky throws in the No. 7 Nittany Lions’ opening win against West Virginia and he’s determined to not make the same mistakes against FCS opponent Delaware on Saturday. The Blue Hens will visit Beaver Stadium before Penn State begins Big Ten play at Illinois next week.

“There still are a lot of things to clean up,” Allar said. “We left a lot of points on the board, got into the red zone a couple of times and weren’t able to punch it in.”

The Mountaineers weren’t able to capitalize after Penn State’s red zone stumbles. Nor were they able to secure two off-the-mark tosses from Allar in the first half. Still, the deep, talented Nittany Lions are wary that eventually, some team will.

Penn State coach James Franklin has seen enough upsets to be cautious that it could be Delaware.

"You’d better appreciate winning and what winning takes,” Franklin said. “Because it’s hard to do.”

The Blue Hens (1-0) are 16-18 all time against FBS teams. This will be just their second crack at one ranked in the AP Top 25. They lost to then-No. 18 Virginia Tech 27-0 in 2017.

After watching Penn State pack more than 110,000 into Beaver Stadium last week, Delaware coach Ryan Carty knows this will be the toughest environment his team will see. He’s not worried about the crowd as much as he is the players who combined for 478 total yards on one side of the ball and almost completely shut down West Virginia on the other.

“There’s a lot of people who concern me on that offense and defense,” Carty said. “I think the most important thing for us is obviously going to be doing our best to play 11-man football on offense and defense. If we focus on one person too much, I think that’s going to be a problem for us.”

NO. 1

KeAndre Lambert-Smith showed off why he’s earned the nickname Big Play Dre. The Nittany Lions wideout created separation seemingly at will and hauled in touchdowns for 72 and 12 yards last week.

Lambert-Smith may have had an even bigger night had Allar not misfired on a slant route where the shifty wideout had juked himself free at the line of scrimmage.

“I thought he was a lot more consistent this offseason with his approach to everything,” Allar said. “He got a routine down. Always saw him in the building and so did all the receivers as a room in general, they all took their approach to the next level and I think that’s really paying off for all of them right now.”


Allar hooked up with nine different targets in his first start, the same number that Delaware’s duo of Ryan O’Connor and Zach Marker hit in the Blue Hens’ Week 1 win over Stony Brook.

Delaware racked up 559 yards of total offense and the Blue Hens’ defense forced three turnovers. It wasn’t all pretty as the Blue Hens turned the ball over four times on three interceptions and one fumble.

“Can we go out there and not make the same mistakes twice?” Carty said. “Can we learn from the things we did well and poorly?”


Franklin will keep deploying his reserve units when games become one-sided. He’ll weather the criticism, too, like he did after West Virginia players and coaches weren’t happy about backup quarterback Beau Pribula running for a touchdown with 6 seconds left.

“I think once those 2s get in the game, then they deserve the right and the chance to play and compete,” Franklin said. “That’s what I believe.”

For young players, garbage time isn’t a thing. Take Penn State defensive tackle Dvon Ellies for example. His first career sack came on the final play of a 23-7 game at Rutgers in 2020.

“I think it’s important for the young guys to get that experience,” Ellies said. “So that way, years down the road or even later this season, injuries happen, unforeseen things happen and you have X amount of guys who have already played in five, six games.”


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