PSU has ques­tions to an­swer at QB

The Republican Herald - - PENN STATE PREVIEW - BY DON­NIE COLLINS

Take away that one in­ter­cep­tion, that one ill- ad­vised throw re­turned for a touch­down to the de­light of a rau­cous Big House and es­sen­tially broke Penn State’s back last week, and one thing be­comes some­what clear about Tommy Stevens.

Com­ing off the bench, he showed signs of be­ing an ef­fec­tive quar­ter­back. With­out that in­ter­cep­tion, he com­pleted all three of his passes, for 35 yards. He wound up be­ing Penn State’s lead­ing rusher, as well, go­ing for 52 yards on 10 car­ries, in­clud­ing the Nit­tany Li­ons’ only touch­down.

Here are some facts about Trace McSor­ley: He’s prob­a­bly go­ing to fin­ish his Penn State ca­reer as sta­tis­ti­cally the best quar­ter­back in pro­gram his­tory, and dur­ing his ca­reer with the Nit­tany Li­ons, he has been a re­lent­less win­ner. Since he ar­rived on cam­pus at Penn State, 38 quar­ter­backs earned an op­por­tu­nity to start a New Year’s Six bowl game; just eight started two or more. McSor­ley is one of them.

When No. 20 Penn State hosts Wis­con­sin to­day at Beaver Sta­dium, all signs point to McSor­ley get­ting his 37th con­sec­u­tive start for the Nit­tany Li­ons. With McSor­ley’s in­jured right knee, among other un­named mal­adies, slow­ing him to his ca­reer- worst per­for­mance last week at Michi­gan, head coach James Franklin has had some ques­tions to an­swer about Penn State’s fu­ture plans at quar­ter­back, es­pe­cially when bal­anced against its present.

Namely, would this be a good time to get Stevens more time un­der cen­ter with the start­ing of­fense, to pre­pare him for the start­ing job in 2019?

Franklin tried to squash the pos­si­bil­ity Tues­day, say­ing Stevens’ play­ing time mostly would come the way it has so far this sea­son: In the so- called “Lion” role, ei­ther as a sec­ond quar­ter­back on the field, or as a run­ning back, re­ceiver or tight end.

Get­ting reps in games, even a few, might seem over­rated to many. Con­sis­tent prac­tice reps help de­velop quar­ter­backs just as much as backup reps in a blowout game, and Stevens said his in­creased play­ing time un­der cen­ter against Iowa and Michi­gan — hasn’t changed much about how he views him­self as a po­ten­tial start­ing quar­ter­back next year.

“I’m not say­ing that it has changed the way I feel about my­self as a quar­ter­back,” Stevens said. “I’ve felt this way about my­self for a long time. I’m not try­ing to sound ar­ro­gant by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. But I am very con­fi­dent in my­self to play the po­si­tion, and I know my team­mates feel the same way.

“As far as the game reps, that’s ob­vi­ously some­thing I want to con­tinue to do. I want game reps at quar­ter­back. That said, those op­por­tu­ni­ties are lim­ited, so I have to make the most of them.”

Lim­ited. But down the stretch, not nec­es­sar­ily un­avail­able.

“It’s the po­si­tion that I want to play,” Stevens said of quar­ter­back. “Like I’ve said in the past, I’m ob­vi­ously will­ing to do what­ever is best for the team, what­ever would be the best way to help. But I don’t want that to be mis­taken: I do want to play quar­ter­back. I didn’t come to Penn State to be the Lion, if that makes sense.”

Con­tact the writer: dcollins@ timessham­rock. com;

570- 348- 9125;

@ psubst on Twit­ter

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