Exiting spring practice, Penn State quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher indicated that his boss didn’t seem inclined to name a starting quarterback until summer camp. That boss, first-year Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien, would only go so far as to pare the three-man competition down to two heading into camp.
Before the calendar flips to June, however, that tack will likely change.
In a conversation with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review before a speaking engagement Monday, O’Brien acknowledged that he expects to name a starter at quarterback by the end of May. The reasoning? A summer camp competition now serves no purpose, at least in the eyes of the coach.
“You can’t waste time, in my opinion, with a quarterback battle during training camp,” O’Brien told the paper. “We’re not a wishy-washy place. We’ve got to make decisions and some people aren’t going to be happy with the decisions, but that’s our job. It’s about the team, and we’re doing what’s best for the team.”
Rob Bolden, Paul Jones and Matt McGloin are the pieces to the three-headed QB competition that commenced (again) with O’Brien’s first spring at the school, with the latter the presumptive front-runner heading out of the sessions and into the summer workouts. Just which one it will actually be, though, remains to be seen as O’Brien is unwilling to tip his QB hand just yet, although it would be more than a mild surprise if it’s anyone but McGloin, who has shared starting duties with Bolden the past two seasons.
During his speaking engagement at the latest stop on the PSU Coaches Caravan, O’Brien once again reiterated the importance of naming a starter and getting that player a significant number of reps in what’s a brand-new offense for all involved. And reiterated that just because Player X is named the starter two months or so ahead of the start of camp, that doesn’t mean that Players X and Y won’t have a shot at unseating him.
“I just think you have to have a starter and he’s going to get most of them reps,” O’Brien said. “The guy I name the starter, he’s got to do a great job every day to keep his job so that doesn’t mean he can’t get beat out, but I think that’s important for our team to know who our starting quarterback is going into camp.”
Penn State will open its first season under O’Brien Sept. 1 against Ohio at Beaver Stadium. Aside from a road trip the second week of the season to Virginia, the Nittany Lions won’t face their first real test until traveling to Kinnick Stadium to take on Iowa — on Oct. 20 and six games into the 2012 season. That schedule, more than anything else, gives O’Brien plenty of time to settle on a starter, regardless of when he first names one. Optimally, however, whoever’s named the starter in May will take the job and run with it through the early cupcakes and firmly entrench as the man under center.