Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Penn State QB Race Update

The Penn State quarterback battle is down to three candidates (from left): true sophomore Kevin Newsome, true freshman Robert Bolden, and redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin. Paul Jones was in the race until recently, when he was told that he would be redshirting for the 2010 season. As soon as Pat Devlin took his talents to Wilmington the starting quarterback position for Penn State this season became a question mark. Despite the fact that Penn State hasn't had terrific quarterback play in the last decade, save Daryll Clark and M-Rob, the empty depth chart enticed Robert Bolden and Paul Jones to commit.

All of a sudden we had three highly touted recruits (counting Newsome), all with at least three years eligibility left battling for the job. I became giddy, but I was almost more worried. Could I really count on Jay Paterno and the staff to get this right? These are the guys that shuffled Michael Robinson all over the field for four years before putting the ball in his hands, the same guys who never even gave Daryll Clark a shot while Morelli was leading us (Joe has admitted that mistake.) We need to show competence, we can't afford any more of this:

Yep, definitely no more of that.

My feelings on each candidate:

Matt McGloin
Strengths: Decision making, accuracy, knowledge of the playbook.
Weaknesses: Athleticism, arm strength.

I think McGloin ends up 3rd on the depth chart. Coaches say he has demonstrated a knowledge of the playbook, but he's not exactly fit to run a portion of it. I've said before that the Spread HD (I've embraced the name by now) is most effective when defenses have to scheme against the QB read-option. I don't see defenses respecting McGloin's running ability, nor do I think he has the body to withstanding the pounding he would take if he lowered his helmet between the tackles.

I don't think the fact that he's a walk on hurts him, I think the coaches are throwing all that out the window on this one. McGloin sounds like a hard-working kid, but this situation reminds me of the QB race in 2008 where the coaching staff insisted that Paul Cianciolo was in the running and not everyone totally bought it because we all knew he would ultimately be trumped by the superior talent he was competing against.

Kevin Newsome
Strengths: Size, strength, athleticism, knowledge of the playbook.
Weaknesses: Accuracy, decision making.

Projection: Newsome will take the first snap for us this year, but he won't take the most. From everything I've read, Newsome has not made the leap in the passing game that the coaches were hoping for. However, I've also read that he is far and away the best at running the option, which I think will earn him 6-10 snaps every game.

The kid stands 6'2" 225 lbs and has the best wheels of all three QBs. That's not something I want to see go to waste - or even worse, go to Wilmington. I think he could be very dangerous in Penn State's 5-wide goal line package they used in 2008 that helped Clark rush for 9 touchdowns.

Robert Bolden
Strengths: Accuracy, arm strength, athleticism, "IT".
Weaknesses: Knowledge of the playbook.

Projection: I think this true freshman is our starting quarterback midway through the season and possibly in the second half at Alabama depending on how that game goes. There has to be something special about this kid. Obviously the depth chart is in his favor, but the Penn State coaching staff is never eager to hand the keys to the offense to a true freshman (hasn't happened since 1992 when Wally Richardson did.) For him to come in in August and impress as he's done speaks volumes to his ability and poise.

In scrimmages he has made the big plays, he has picked up the playbook quickly, which means he's got a high football IQ or working his ass off or both. He doesn't have the physique to take a pounding running the ball yet, so that's why I think Newsome still gets considerable time this season.

Needless to say I have a man-crush on Bolden. I don't see how you cannot be excited about him, not only does it appear we have a special talent on our hands, we might have him for four years as our starter! Going beyond that, we have an offensive coaching staff that has really found an identity in the last five years and I feel very confident that they will make the right choice and use that player effectively. I know the 2010 season hasn't started yet, but it's not too early to dream about what could be in the coming years.

Chalk up my swing in optimism to the Big Ten Network's stop at Penn State when they interviewed Jay Paterno and he didn't seem like the baby Huey I used to picture him as. I've also been following him on Twitter (@JayPaterno) and he offers some good stuff, practice photos, recaps, and early morning tweets just to let everyone in the college football world know that we are GRINDIN.

Twitter is the wave of the future follow us @WeNeverGraduate.

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