Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford was not at Wednesday’s open practice, but head coach James Franklin declined to shed light on how long the Nittany Lions would be without their captain. Clifford left the loss to Iowa in the first half on Saturday and did not return as redshirt sophomore Ta’Quan Roberson finished the game. Roberson and freshman Christian Veilleux have been sharing reps at practice this week.
“I don’t get into injuries, so I won’t get into that,” Franklin said after practice on Wednesday. “Ta’Quan and Veilleux have both been splitting reps in practice this week and have done well. But nothing has been decided or determined at this point.”
Franklin added later that it will be a “competitive situation” between the two young quarterbacks. Roberson was unable to hold onto a two-score lead against the Hawkeyes in the final three quarters and finished up just 7-of-21 passing for 34 yards and two interceptions.
“I wouldn’t say minus one, minus two, minus one on the road in a hostile environment against the No. 3 team in the country is how I would have drawn it up,” Franklin said of Roberson’s road debut. “This week will be telling for both of them. We’ve only really had two practices since then. Next week will obviously be important for them as well and we also have a practice tomorrow that those guys will be involved in.”
Clifford was not spotted at the practice session, but Franklin, who stuck to his policy of not discussing non-season ending injuries, said that Clifford was “preparing as a starter” and helping the young quarterbacks be ready for game action. Veilleux has yet to see action in a game in his young career.
“Sean’s always like that from a preparation standpoint,” said Franklin. “He’s always really good like that. He’s preparing the same, he’s always trying to include those guys as much as he can. Obviously Sean’s schedule, where he’s at in his academic career with those guys guys, makes it challenging. But he does a great job at that stuff.”
The play of the senior from Ohio was a big reason that the Nittany Lions opened the season with five straight wins. Penn State led 17-3 when he was taken out of the game after absorbing a big hit from Jack Campbell in the second quarter. Franklin would not discuss the specifics of the injury or provide a timeline for his return.
“It’s part of the game, right? Sean has had issues in the past. He’s doing everything he possibly can to get back as soon as he possibly can and go from there,” said Franklin. “What he’s dealing with is not uncommon at the quarterback position.”
The Nittany Lions will have the weekend off before returning to action at home against Illinois on Oct. 23. Penn State will then travel to Ohio State on Oct. 30 for a huge matchup in the Big Ten East.