Penn State may have a new coach, Bill O’Brien, but this is a headline we’ve had filed away for the better part of the last year.
In the first spring game for the football program since 1949 that didn’t involve the legendary Joe Paterno, and despite O’Brien’s reputation as a QB/offensive guru, it was the new coach’s defense that stole the spring show, albeit with a very basketball-esque score of 77-65. While the defense stole the show in front of 60,000-plus fans at Beaver Stadium, it will be the play of the quarterbacks that will be much discussed and dissected in the coming days.
Nittany Lion QBs threw five interceptions on the day, and were sacked eight times for good measure. The three contenders for the starting job — Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones — each threw at least one pick, with Bolden tossing three of them.
That performance prompted BlueWhiteIllustrated.com to write “McGloin may have continued to separate himself from the three-part quarterback race, but it wasn’t because he blew away his competition.”
Despite McGloin appearing to up his status as the front-runner, QBs coach Charlie Fisher did not indicate that his boss is ready to tab anyone as the starter heading into summer camp.
“We’ll continue to evaluate them,” Fisher said. “We’ll take a look at this tape and grade it and get a great look at it.”
Even as the statistical numbers were gaudy in an unseemly kind of way, O’Brien, at least publicly, is comfortable with the state of the most important position on the field.
“I feel pretty good where we’re at quarterback-wise,” the former New England patriots offensive coordinator said. “I really have to watch the film, I really do. I’ve got to see the film. It’s hard to see from the sideline. But, all three of those guys made some plays today.
“And again, I have to reiterate, all three of these guys, we’ve asked a lot of them. We’ve asked them to learn a system that’s totally different than anything they’ve ever learned, and that takes time. And different guys learn at different rates, and some guys get it right away, other guys get it the next day, other guys get it two days from now.
As for when a decision on a starter will be named, O’Brien explained that “we have to let it soak a little bit, let it soak for ourselves as a staff, and then we’ll make a decision headed into training camp on who we’re going with or who the top two are.”
Perhaps the most interesting development came after the game, when McGloin seemed to take a shot at the previous coaching staff.
“We’re communicating more. We’re having more fun out there,” the senior said according to the Rivals website. “The most important thing is, we’re being told the truth. Coach [O’Brien] is being honest with us. In the past, that really hasn’t happened too much.
“They’re telling you what you’re doing wrong each and every day and they’re telling you where you’re at each and every day. That’s something that didn’t really happen in the past. I’m happy about that, and I really appreciate it.”
(Photo credit: Penn State athletics)