Freshman Christian Veilleux was Penn State's No. 2 quarterback last Saturday at Ohio State, a situation that could continue when the team visits Maryland this week.
Veilleux, a true freshman who has not played this season, replaced Ta'Quan Roberson last week at the backup spot behind Sean Clifford, Penn State coach James Franklin said Tuesday. Roberson was "limited" at practice before the Ohio State game, prompting the coaching staff to promote Veilleux.
Franklin said that he expects Roberson to return this week, when "hopefully he'll be able to get his full amount of reps again, and we'll be able to really evaluate the two of those guys moving forward."
Penn State's quarterback situation has been delicate since Clifford was injured at Iowa on Oct. 10. Though he was dealing with physical limitations, Clifford started two weeks later against Illinois, a game Penn State lost in a record nine overtimes.
Franklin has said multiple times since then that Clifford started against Illinois because he gave the team its best chance to win. The coach did not mention any potential injuries to Roberson as being factors in that decision.
"Ta'Quan has been limited," Franklin said Tuesday. "So based on the number of reps and where he was at, talking to the doctors and trainers, we decided that Veilleux would be in that position on Saturday [at Ohio State]. And then obviously we’ll do the same thing this week and look at it."
Veilleux enrolled in January and participated in spring drills, a significant step in his development. He finished preseason camp as the No. 3 quarterback but has closed the gap during the season. "Right now, it's somewhat close," Franklin said before the Illinois game of the competitive difference between Roberson and Veilleux.
Penn State certainly needs to develop a viable option behind Clifford for the remaining four regular-season games. The Lions could not hold a 14-point lead at Iowa after Clifford left the game with an injury and adjusted their playbook to compensate for Clifford's running limitations against Illinois.
Franklin said that Veilleux has shown poise and arm strength in practices, though he needs to make some technical strides. The coach also said that Veilleux took advantage of his increased practice reps before the Ohio State game.
"He’s got really good poise, got really good arm strength," Franklin said of Veilleux. "Sometimes he tends to throw too much just with his arm and doesn’t get his lower half incorporated into the throws. But he seems to have a pretty good understanding of where to go with the ball and why and protections, which is a big thing usually for high school guys at this level getting adjusted to. But I think his poise is a thing that stands out to me most. He looks very poised and comfortable and confident in the pocket."