The biggest question on the Penn State campus this time of the year is usually which flavor of ice cream to have at The Creamery.
But instead of downing two scoops of Peachy Paterno, the head honcho for the Nittany Lions has to be feeling far from peachy. There’s still no decision on a starting quarterback with just over two weeks to go before the season opener versus Youngstown State.
Still, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of options at the quarterback position for Penn State. In fact, this is arguably the most talented bunch in years.
With four talented candidates in play, it’s not the lack of options that’s the issue. There are also a few key factors that can clear this thing right up. Each should push Penn State towards a “Decision” that would make LeBron James jealous.
First, let’s take a look at the candidates:
Answering the Penn State QB Debate
Kevin Newsome (6’ 3” 217 lb., Chatham, VA, Sophomore)
He’s the most “experienced” of the bunch, but still only managed limited action in 2009, going 8-11 for 66 yards. Newsome is mobile and elusive – listed with an unofficial 40-time of 4.57 (via Rivals.com). While a highly touted four-star prospect, Newsome is still an inexperienced QB that failed to seize the job during the Blue-White spring game. In fact, while Newsome showed his speed and mobility, he was painfully erratic when passing the ball – particularly downfield, where he missed multiple targets by 10-plus yards.
Matthew McGloin (6’1″ 209 lb., Scranton, PA, Sophomore)
McGloin is the feel-good story of the group, starting as a walk-on and continuing to work hard and move his way up the team’s depth chart. He’s known for being poised and comfortable in the pocket, but not known for his mobility. McGloin is also accurate and a smart passer, although he struggled with two picks during the spring game.
Robert Bolden (6’4” 195 lb., Orchard Lake, MI, Freshman)
Bolden was Rivals.com’s 2nd ranked quarterback of the 2010 class, and is considered a dual-threat with a very strong arm and tons of speed. He has an unofficial 40-time of 4.5, per Rivals. Certainly, he was the last one to get started at PSU – as freshman Paul Jones reported early. Still, many have raved about the performance of Bolden throughout team scrimmages and practices. Some have made comparisons of him to that of Terrelle Pryor.
Paul Jones (6’ 3” 226 lb., McKees Rocks, PA, Freshman)
Jones is another true freshman – and like Bolden, a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com. Listed as the 8th best QB at his position, Jones does not have the speed and mobility that Bolden or Newsome has. He does, however, possess a strong arm. Jones had the only two touchdown passes during the Blue-White game in the spring.
Now that your memories are fresh on the quarterbacks, here are some open-ended questions about the QB decision – from inexperience, to the Spread HD offense, to mobility and past successes.
Penn State: The Open-Ended Questions
First, there’s experience – and since there are no seasoned veterans at the QB position, the job is up for grabs. It’s no secret that in the past Joe Paterno and Penn State have avoided thrusting a true freshman into the starting quarterback job. Heck, years ago, no freshmen were put into a starting role. That is, until JoePa had his hand forced when Justin King and Derrick Williams came to town. Since, a number of freshmen have earned starting roles, but never at quarterback. Zack Mills did start as a freshman, but only after a struggling Matt Seneca left with an injury. Now is as good a time as any. Paterno and Penn State need to consider starting one of their talented freshmen.
Second, there’s the Penn State “Spread HD” offense. This offensive scheme has had a great deal of success over the last few years. However, it must be noted that the most successful seasons under Penn State’s offense were when the Nittany Lions featured a talented quarterback that couldn’t just pass and make solid decisions, but one that was very mobile.
Look at Penn State’s three best seasons over the last decade: 2005 (11-1), 2008 (11-2) and 2009 (11-2). Each featured mobile quarterbacks Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark. The 2006 and 2007 teams featured QB Anthony Morelli – a pocket passer. The Nittany Lions showed a drop-off, losing four games during the Morelli years.
One could even go back to the 2002 team – which finished 9-4 – and featured a mobile QB tandem of Zack Mills and Michael Robinson.
Narrowing it Down
Therefore, scratch McGloin and Jones from the list for now – that is, if you want to maximize the Spread HD success and compliment the talented wide receivers and running game featuring stars such as WR Derek Moye and RB Evan Royster.
Just like that, the list gets cut in half. That leaves sophomore Kevin Newsome and talented freshman Robert Bolden to take over the starting role in 2010.
Newsome was the backup to Daryll Clark last year, and the man leading the offense during the Blue-White game in April. But he has yet to seize the job away from anyone else. Bolden, meanwhile, has been drawing rave reviews from a number of different people who have recently seen him. That includes Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network – who had great things to say about Bolden on Twitter.
Bolden also received more glowing reviews via Bob Flounders at The Patriot-News. Included in the praise, Flounders called Bolden “an impressive specimen, at 6-4, 208 pounds” – which shows that the kid has bulked up some already. That is, unless the earlier Rivals report card was inaccurate.
In the end, the decision comes back to Paterno and the coaching staff.
Are the leaders of Penn State football willing to place the keys to a potent Spread HD offense in the hands of a true freshman?
Certainly, plenty of teams have done so in the past – and had success. Take the USC Trojans with Matt Barkley and the Ohio State Buckeyes with Terrelle Pryor.
The more and more you hear about Robert Bolden – the more it appears that he may be the next one in line. That is, if he gets the chance.
*Also posted to my Bleacher Report page (now in archives)
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A few days ago, reports came out that Paul Jones has been redshirted and therefore the race is down to 3 QB’s – and many have speculated that perhaps McGloin may start in the first week or two, with Bolden as the backup. Still don’t think that’s a good idea… with the way Alabama blitzes, plus Penn State’s OL question marks, they will need someone with mobility – and might as well put Bolden into the mix immediately if he’s still looking strong in practice.