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Penn State football practice notebook | James Franklin talks backup quarterback, team illness

Penn State has a got-to-have game on its hands this weekend, as it is set to take on Rutgers at Beaver Stadium for Senior Day.

The Nittany Lions will look to pick up their seventh win after losing four of their last five games, including last weekend’s 21-17 loss to Michigan.

As always, there are plenty of storylines heading into the game that James Franklin addresses following practice on Wednesday.

Here’s what to take away from the post-practice media session.

Backup quarterback

Penn State has had controversy surrounding its backup quarterback position all season long.

While redshirt-sophomore quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson was the team’s backup to begin the season, that has now apparently changed.

After just one appearance following the injury to Sean Clifford at Iowa, Roberson was not given another chance and has now been replaced by true freshman Christian Veilleux as the No. 2 quarterback.

When Franklin was asked about Veilleux taking the pregame reps as the No. 2 against Michigan and if that was the plan moving forward, he indicated that the Canada native would take on that role.

“Yeah, that's fair at this stage right now,” Franklin said. “It was still a weekly competition but yeah, that's fair.”


Meanwhile, there were a number of players missing from practice on Wednesday and especially on the offensive line, including some key guys like Mike Miranda, Rasheed Walker and Caedan Wallace.

Franklin mentioned that there is a non-coronavirus-related sickness going around campus and that some of his players had been affected by it.

While they were not participants on Wednesday, Franklin did not mention anything about their status’ for this weekend’s game against the Scarlet Knights.


“We have a number of guys, I guess there's a virus or flu going around on campus,” Franklin said. “We had about six guys that are non-COVID related but had fevers really over the last couple days. So that's what we'll deal with.”

Also, while Miranda left the game on Saturday and was replaced at center by Juice Scruggs, Franklin said that injury was not the reason he wasn’t a participant and confirmed Miranda was among those affected by the sickness.

Kalen King

While this game may not have the postseason implications Penn State was hoping for, some of the roster is gaining some important playing time.

It’s likely some younger Nittany Lions will see extended playing time as the season winds down, including freshman cornerback Kalen King, who has already burned his redshirt.

Franklin addressed the role King played last Saturday and moving forward, speaking highly of the Detroit native.

“[I’m] very pleased with him,” Franklin said. “A lot of guys you can tell the first time they get out there, they're maybe a little nervous or the moment is kind of big for them. I never feel that way with Kalen, he's got tremendous confidence in himself. “

The 4-star cornerback was seeing time in the fourth quarter against the Wolverines last Saturday, and Franklin indicated that type of situation could continue moving forward.

“He's played a decent amount already this year, so I can see his rep count go up as the season goes on.”

Franklin also said starter Tariq Castro-Fields was a bit banged up against Michigan and that contributed to King’s minutes down the stretch, but Castro-Fields confirmed Wednesday he’ll be ready to go against Rutgers.


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