QB McGloin set to lead Penn State’s new offense
June 1 was a pretty significant day in the life of Matt
That was the day that new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien decided
that McGloin, a former walk-on, was to be the next starting
quarterback for the Nittany Lions and was going to help usher in
this new era of football here under center – and under the
Indeed, O’Brien, a former offensive coordinator for the New
England Patriots, wanted just one player to run his NFL-type
strategy, and McGloin grasped the playbook faster and with more
success than Paul Jones and Rob Bolden.
So, McGloin grabbed the title, and will soon lead the Nittany
Lions into preseason camp with a new offense and a new outlook.
”It was a load off my mind. You don’t have to worry about
looking over your shoulder every two seconds, seeing where you
stand,” McGloin said. ”Last year, it was `If I don’t practice
well Tuesday or Wednesday, I didn’t know if I was going to play on
Saturday.’ … Now that I’m the guy, I know I have to work harder
than ever to maintain that position and to prove everybody
Still under the cloud of scrutiny and turmoil associated with
the abuse scandal, Penn State opens the season on Sept. 1 vs. Ohio,
and on that day at Beaver Stadium, McGloin will officially begin
his quest in front of the nation. The challenge for the senior is
to help change an offense that ranked 10th in the conference last
season (342.4 yards per game). He also needs to show that O’Brien
made the right call.
As for now, though, it’s so far, so good … especially in the
eyes of his teammates.
The response from the players, in fact, has been ”tremendous”
McGloin said. The quarterback took on the role of organizing 7-on-7
drills this summer, and said he’s working around everyone’s class
schedules so he can put in extra time throwing to his wide
receivers at night.
McGloin completed just 54 percent of his passes last season, and
missed the TicketCity Bowl vs. Houston – a 30-14 loss – after
sustaining a concussion in a locker-room scuffle with a teammate.
The other player involved in the scuffle, Curtis Drake, was
dismissed from the team this summer.
In O’Brien’s offense, the tight ends are expected to be more
involved and running back Silas Redd will have the opportunity to
catch more balls out of the backfield. McGloin’s improved accuracy
caught O’Brien’s eye this spring when the quarterback said he
limited his turnovers over and completed 70 percent of his passes.
And that percentage might just stick during the season, as those
safety-option dump-offs to Redd could increase – especially early
on as the offense continues to mesh.
”In terms of (reading) coverages, defensive fronts, things like
that, I’m light years ahead of where I was. It’s scary,” McGloin
said. ”I’ve really made strides in recognizing defenses and
blitzes and getting in and out of plays and changing
His teammates are relieved to have just one quarterback going
through first-team drills. Nine out of the 12 first-team
repetitions will go to McGloin throughout preseason camp, a
reassuring fact for both McGloin and Redd.
”We know we have a sense of the identity of the offense now,
and who is going to be leading us,” said Redd, who anticipates
20-plus carries per game. ”He knows that the offense has more than
The offensive transition has gone ”a lot smoother” this summer
than it did in the spring, Redd added. He said players now
understand where they need to be, McGloin knows what audibles to
call, and the offense can continue adding new wrinkles along the
way, as a result.
Just how much trickery – a traditional staple in the New England
offense – can fans expect to see from Penn State this season?
”You guys,” Redd said with a chuckle, ”are just going to have
to wait and see.”
One thing is for sure. O’Brien made it clear from the day he
tagged McGloin as the starter that anything can change as he
progresses through the depth chart. Jones and Bolden are slated to
back up McGloin and dual-threat freshman quarterback Steven Bench
arrived on campus in June. McGloin knows he must produce … or
McGloin said he watched Bench throw a few times and was pleased
with the progress the newcomer is making. However, McGloin is
champing at the bit for camp to start, so he can prove that he is
the best option under center for the Nittany Lions.
The depth at quarterback is great and all for the future of this
embattled program. But he still wants to be No. 1.
”This is the most excited I’ve been for a camp so far,”
McGloin said. ”Don’t get me wrong. I definitely love to compete
and love the challenge. But you’re the No. 1 guy. … What I’m
going to focus on now, in camp, is earning their respect and trying
to become the best leader I can be.”
He’s off to a good start.