James Franklin explains why Christian Veilleux didn’t play against Iowa

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As the old saying goes, hindsight can be 20/20. After watching Penn State freshman Christian Veilleux come off the sideline to replace an injured Sean Clifford and lead the Nittany Lions to a 28-0 victory over Rutgers on Saturday, many fans were quick to wonder why James Franklin didn’t turn to Veilleux earlier in the season in a similar situation.

Penn State’s first loss of the season came on the road against the Iowa Hawkeyes. In that game, Penn State was in the driver’s seat with Clifford on the field, but the starting quarterback was knocked out of the game in the first half and Franklin turned to Ta’Quan Roberson to lead the offense for the remainder of the game. That ended up being an absolute disaster as the offense lost all momentum and had no answers for a difficult Iowa defense in Kinnick Stadium. Simply put, it was a terrible spot for any backup quarterback to step in.

But given what fans saw against Rutgers, would Veilleux have done any worse than Roberson at Iowa? Could Veilleux have led Penn State to at least one more scoring drive that would have changed the outcome of the pivotal game?

Franklin defended the logic behind not going to Veilleux against Iowa by suggesting Veilleux has improved in practices as the season has gone along, and he was more prepared for the moment against Rutgers than he might have been against Iowa.

“They’re allowed to get better,” Franklin said of players in general during the course of the season during his postgame media session after the win over Rutgers. “You know, at that point, it was not obvious that he was going to be the backup quarterback. I also don’t know if going on the road at Iowa, number two in the country, in his first three possessions at the minus-one, the minus-two and a minus-one. Ta’Quan had been in the program longer and really, it’s pretty obvious to everybody, that he gave us the best chance at that stage to win.”

This is a topic where coaches working every practice throughout the week and season have much more information and insight on what their players can or cannot do at any given point in time. Veilleux had not played a down of football since 2019, and asking him to step in for an injured Clifford against a feisty Iowa defense in Kinnick Stadium in the sixth game of the season could have also been a disaster. Perhaps, in this case, there was no perfect solution for Penn State in that game against the Hawkeyes.

But Franklin knew to expect that line of questioning.

“After the way Veilleux played today, I get the question. I understand it totally, but he’s just gotten better,” Franklin explained. “You got to remember, he didn’t play football his senior year. His season got canceled because of COVID. So, he just keeps getting better and I was proud of him. He was very poised today, made some plays with his legs, made some big-time throws, made some checks. Obviously, it’s something to build on, but I get the question. He’s gotten better, that’s the difference and that’s the reason.”

So now the question will be this; will Veilleux get his first career start this weekend on the road against Michigan State? Or will Clifford be ready to step back on the field for the regular-season finale in East Lansing?

List

Inside the Box Score: Key stats from Penn State's win over Rutgers

Related

James Franklin said 35 players were out for Penn State vs. Rutgers

What time is the Penn State vs. Michigan State football game in Week 13?

Did James Franklin reveal a big contract announcement is coming?

Best Twitter Reaction to Penn State shutout win over Rutgers

5 takeaways from Penn State's 28-0 victory over Rutgers

Report Card: Grading the Nittany Lions after a win against Rutgers

Instant reaction: Christian Veilleux provides spark, defense is dominant in win over Rutgers

WATCH: Malick Meiga's first career TD is a big one for Penn State

WATCH: Parker Washington comes up with clutch catch for Penn State

WATCH: Christian Veilleux completes first career TD pass

Follow Nittany Lions Wire on Twitter and like us on Facebook for continuing Penn State coverage and discussion.