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Franklin weighs QB choice

UNIVERSITY PARK — At Penn State football coach James Franklin’s Tuesday press conference, several of the questions centered around Penn State’s quarterback situation.

Franklin said Ta’Quan Roberson, who relieved the injured Sean Clifford at Iowa, and true freshman Christian Veilleux “will split the reps” in practice this week.

Clifford is likely out, but Franklin said, “He’s working very hard to get back as soon as possible.”

Roberson was ineffective against Iowa, hitting 7-of-21 passes for 34 yards and two interceptions as a 17-3 lead turned into a 23-20 loss. The Lions were dogged by false-start penalties — committing eight after Clifford’s injury early in the second quarter.

Roberson arrived at Penn State in 2019 and Franklin said Tuesday, “The player that’s been in the program should be widening the gap.”

Instead, he said, “right now we’re even,” adding the competition is “magnified” and he’s “looking closely.”

He said he’d like to name a starting QB for Saturday’s game “as early as you can” but added, “we’re not ready to do that now.”

He did say Roberson’s increased work with starting center Mike Miranda “has been helpful.”

Franklin-LSU rumors

With Ed Orgeron out at LSU, add another school where Franklin’s name is linked, joining USC.

Franklin was asked if he gets tired of the speculation and he said, “Yes, you do,” but didn’t make a definitive public commitment to Penn State.

He did say, however: “I care what people think, and I want to handle things the right way all the time — with the players, with the staff, with the administration. I want to help these players achieve their dreams and the staff and do right by the university.”

Assessing bye week

Franklin called last week’s open date “productive.”

The team held a “developmental squad scrimmage” at Beaver Stadium, Franklin said, that had more emphasis, perhaps since the Lions were coming off a loss and now counting on potentially two inexperienced quarterbacks.

The coaches were out recruiting from Thursday through Saturday.

Scouting Illinois

Franklin said Bret Bielema, in his first year with the Illinois after a successful stint at Wisconsin before a not-so-successful stop at Arkansas, “has a tremendous resume” and has been “highly successful in this conference.”

He noted that the Illini have 22 super seniors (in their sixth seasons, due to last year’s pandemic), making them “one of the oldest teams in college football.”

Illinois opened with a win over Nebraska and beat Charlotte before being shut out by Wisconsin two weeks ago. The Illini also were idle last week.

NFL talk

Franklin said he’s been talking with defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher, who is out for the year with a knee injury, about his future plans — either returning to PSU or heading to the NFL.

Mustipher was hurt at Iowa.

“Normally, you want to be laser-focused” so those conversations come later, but since agents can speak with players from the time they’re true freshmen, “If you’re not talking about these things and other people are, you’re being naive.”

Franklin said Mustipher continues to provide great leadership, despite his injury.

Generation of greatness

Penn State will wear its throwback uniforms, which include numbers on the helmets, Saturday, which is also homecoming.

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Neil Rudel covers Penn State football from the Altoona Mirror.

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