This was a strange sequence. Down the stretch, McSorley played well and almost pulled off a Citrus Bowl comeback.
Penn State quarterback apparently Trace McSorley played on an injured foot in the Citrus Bowl against the Kentucky Wildcats. When the second half began, backup Sean Clifford started over McSorley, who was seen on the sidelines limping and trying to jog on what looked like his right foot. Then, the school told reporters the senior had a broken foot:
From #PennState: McSorley has broken foot and is done for the day.
— Richard Scarcella (@nittanyrich) January 1, 2019
But literally right after this, McSorley was on the sidelines talking with head coach James Franklin. He then reentered at QB. His third play of the second half was an interception caught by Kentucky’s Lonnie Johnson Jr., who returned it 24 yds to the UK 34.
McSorley took a big shot on the play, too:
After the pick, McSorley visibly limped to the sidelines, but still appeared to have use of both his feet.
At that point, Penn State trailed by 13. The Nittany Lions then went down by 20. But then, McSorley led a strong comeback effort.
With some passes and some explosive runs, he led Penn State on two touchdown drives early in the fourth quarter — one 10 plays, one six. PSU trailed 27-21.
After a defensive stop, with PSU down 6 and just more than four minutes left, McSorley had gotten the Lions down to UK’s 14 with a chance to win.
But on fourth-and-7, James Franklin opted for a short field goal. Jake Pinegar hit it, but a couple of Kentucky first downs behind Benny Snell prevented PSU from getting the ball back until there was one second left and the ball was at the PSU 17.
It would’ve been more fun to watch McSorley try to score on that fourth down.
It’s still not entirely clear what happened here.
“Trace was experiencing some discomfort,” Franklin said after the game. The coach said the decision to play came down to what McSorley wanted, with doctors’ input.
McSorley says that it’s unclear whether or not his foot is broken despite initial word from Penn State athletics that it was broken.
Franklin says they will find out the severity of the injury soon.
— Onward State (@OnwardState) January 1, 2019
According to ESPN’s Laura Rutledge, Penn State informed her that he was cleared to play in the second half. He came out of the locker room and reportedly threw his helmet and was seen limping around the sidelines.
In his second series, McSorley managed to score a one-yard rushing touchdown, so hey, his foot is at least OK enough for him to do that.
Obviously, playing on an actually broken foot wouldn’t be ideal (to say the absolute least), but this is McSorley’s final game as a Nittany Lion who will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, so him trying to gut through an injury (that perhaps isn’t as bad as “broken foot” sounds) isn’t the most extreme thing a player’s ever done in order to stay in a game — and it was evidently all his choice, based on his sideline conversations.
McSorley doesn’t have great size (6-foot, 200 pounds) or a great arm, but he was one of college football’s most productive quarterbacks the past three seasons. McShay wrote in early December that McSorley was his favorite late-round prospect to watch. He’ll be among the contingent of QBs at the Senior Bowl, where he’ll get his shot to impress against some of the draft’s best senior prospects.
We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.