Drew Allar is anchored into the starting quarterback slot for Penn State this fall after starting all 13 games a season ago. Unfortunately, questions surrounding Allar’s full potential remain valid after his sophomore season and Saturday’s spring game.

Let’s avoid looking at the spring game before we dissect last season’s performance a bit further.

In his first start for the program, Allar burst onto the scene with 325 passing yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 72% of his passes against West Virginia. Considering the Mountaineers went on to finish the season 9-4, that performance looked like a quality one and a sign of big things to come.

And, to be fair, Allar had his bright spots last season. He completed over 70% of his passes with 240 yards and 4 touchdowns against Maryland. Even his game against Iowa which required 25 completions to record 166 yards (and 4 touchdowns without a pick) deserves a solid nod for the circumstances involved.

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However, those 2 games and his debut against West Virginia are where the high-water marks end against power conference teams with a winning record.

Facing Northwestern, Allar finished with a 54.5% completion percentage and just 189 yards. In a game vs. Rutgers, he went 6-for-13 before leaving the game due to an injury and not returning. He also finished 16-for-33 in a road win over Illinois (And the Illini finished the year 5-7).

In Penn State’s 3 biggest games of the season (Ohio State, Michigan and Ole Miss), Allar was somehow at his worst. A 42.9% completion percentage against the Buckeyes, a 43.5% effort and just 70 yards against Michigan and a 19-for-39 effort in the bowl game loss to Ole Miss.

Despite those big-game struggles, Allar was able to avoid the costly turnover bug. His touchdown-to-interception ratio came out to 25-to-2 in his first year as a starter, an efficient mark for any player.

Considering his whole body of work, Allar’s first season as a starter looks promising. And I won’t dispute that, considering he faced the nation’s two top defenses in Ohio State and Michigan. However, the outings against Illinois and Northwestern still stand out as troublesome.

So, where then, is the concern for Allar entering 2024? It’s related to a couple of areas.

It was widely agreed last year that Penn State had an underwhelming group of wide receivers by the time the season wrapped up. KeAndre Lambert-Smith did perform well, but the rest of Penn State’s top receiving options were tight ends and Nicholas Singleton. Harrison Wallace III did miss some time which ultimately held the group back.

But the fact we’re even having a conversation about Penn State’s wideouts illustrates some of the concerns related to Allar.

A member of the 2022 recruiting class, Allar was a 5-star recruit and the No. 4 QB in the cycle per the 247 Sports Composite. What are 5-star prospects supposed to do? Elevate a program and make those around them better.

Instead of consistently elevating the offense, we’re questioning if Allar has the pieces in place to be successful. Never mind the fact Penn State may have the best 1-2 running back punch in the country with Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

And, if we are wondering if Penn State has the right pieces in place for Allar to be successful, that’s another big red flag considering the recent turn of events. Leading up to the spring game, rumors about Lambert-Smith’s future began to swirl, and he eventually hit the transfer portal on Monday.

So much for Julian Fleming joining the WR room to play alongside Lambert-Smith. Now, Fleming has his own pressure to deal with as all eyes turn to him to prove he can be a legitimate No. 1 threat on a Big Ten contender.

The other area of concern related to Allar is related to the spring game, and I intend to tell both the good and the bad from Saturday’s performance. However, I stand by the fact the “good” of Allar’s outing — even considering the factors in play and the fact it was a spring game — pales in comparison to his struggles.

Here are the clips of Allar’s lowlights and his highlights from Saturday’s game:

Here’s the beautiful thing about those two videos, especially with the context that they came from a spring game: You are free to draw your own conclusions from the tape.

Is Allar simply ironing out his timing in a watered-down version of Andy Kotelnicki’s offense before breaking out in a major way this fall? You’re free to build that case as much as you want.

Is Allar destined to be a bust under center after another inaccurate performance? Go right ahead and make your case, though even I would stray away from that type of doom-and-gloom assessment.

However, the problem I have found with those clips after watching them side-by-side is pretty glaring: No one can honestly say they have a clue what Allar is going to be this season, and that should not be the case entering the summer.

Yes, I am sure Kotelnicki will do some fun and inspired things with the offense, and that is indeed something that has been missing from Penn State in recent seasons. But, at some point this season, the Nittany Lions will need Allar to make not just one play but multiple plays in a big-time moment.

Unfortunately, anyone looking for a confidence-building performance in the spring game was left underwhelmed, and that’s a problem for Penn State.

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