As Penn State arrived Wednesday in Orlando to continue preparations for the Citrus Bowl against Kentucky, head coach James Franklin disclosed that versatile backup quarterback Tommy Stevens would not be available following recent surgery.
Franklin would not discuss the nature of the injury but said that the redshirt junior had an injury “about the midpoint of the season.” Stevens, who missed the first four games of 2018 recovering from an injury to his foot or ankle, played in each of the last six games.
“We had a lot of discussions about when’s the right time to have the surgery,” Franklin said at a news conference at the team hotel, “but Tommy’s family and the staff decided the best time to have the surgery would be once his academics finished up and he got through the season.”
Franklin said Stevens “hopefully would be full-go for spring ball.”
Stevens, expected to be part of the spring competition to be Trace McSorley’s successor at quarterback, rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns, passed for 110 yards and one TD and made two receptions for two yards this season. Redshirt freshman Sean Clifford likely will be McSorley’s backup in the bowl game.
Franklin said the Nittany Lions installed their game plan and completed their scripting back home and will have their normal game week of practice beginning Thursday.
“We need to make sure our timing is right because we haven’t done anything in a week,” he said. “Our normal Sunday practice [the first practice of game week] will be a little different. We’ll do some passing game to make sure our timing is back.”
The head coach also said he wants the trip to be a balance of business and fun.
"We talk all the time about having a mature football team and I want them to enjoy this,” he said. “This is a great experience and they have to be able to balance both. When it’s time to enjoy themselves and have fun, go do that. When it’s time to be in meetings and be at practice, we have to be able to do those things as well.”
Wide receiver Juwan Johnson said the Lions came to Orlando with two goals: having fun and defeating the Wildcats.
“This is our last time with the guys that are here, the seniors and the guys who are leaving,” said Johnson, who added that he hadn’t thought about whether he will return for his final year of eligibility or declare for the NFL draft. “So it’s going to be one of those times where you embrace it because that’s the last time we’re going to be together this week.”