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Penn State Football: McGloin vs. Bolden – Hands, Hand-offs and Huddle Voices

by on August 18, 2011 11:35 PM

Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. The two Penn State quarterbacks are different, all right -- in so many ways that you already know.

And, I’m willing to bet, in some ways that you don’t. (I certainly didn’t.)

Until now.

To get a new view of the Nittany Lion signal-callers, we talked to the guys who almost always have their back to the QBs – the offensive line.

And we added a few observations from a running back who mostly looks at the QBs from, literally, behind.

The nuances are small, but taken as a whole, the sum of the parts shows two quarterbacks who are much more than just two inches and five pounds apart (advantage: Bolden).


“Their hands are a little different,” said center Matt Stankiewitch, who should know. “McGloin’s are smaller than Bolden’s -- Bolden’s are pretty big. I can do an off-snap and Bolden can still suck that up.

“The shotgun doesn’t matter. You could have coach (Joe) Paterno back there catching the shotgun and it doesn’t really matter.”

But could Joe handle the rush?

“Maybe he can,” Stankiewitch laughed. “If he was in that golf cart back there, he might be able to outrun all of them.”


“Handing the ball off, the real difference is that Rob’s arms are kind of longer,” says junior running back Brandon Beachum. “So everything is not the same fit as it with Matt. The hand-off is closer to one (McGloin) and further with the other.

“It impacts my approach to the ball, though not necessarily when I run with it. I might have a little sharper angle” to the hole, said Beachum, referring to his ball exchanges with McGloin.

“You notice it when you have two types in there. It is a subtle thing, but it certainly is noticeable when you’re carrying the ball. The running backs want to be comfortable just taking one hand-off.”


“McGloin is more technically sound,” said Beachum. “Not more mechanical, just more technical in the sense that he knows exactly what he has to do, the timing of every route. He has the steps. All that stuff is down pat.

“But when you have Rob in, he’s smooth, he’s feeling it out, he’s feeling the defense.

“With McGloin, a five-step drop is a five-step drop. With Rob, it’s more what he sees or feels, and he can put the ball there. If the defense plays off, he can put the ball in the right spot.”


“They both have different kinds of poise,” Stankiewitch said.


“Of course, McGloin is an Irish guy. If someone didn’t know a route this summer, he’d grab the football and punt it and yell, ‘Know your route!’ He holds you accountable and stuff.”

And Bolden?

“Bolden is definitely athletic and a poised quarterback,” Stankiewitch said. “He has a certain nature about him, about how he stands. You can tell he’s about leadership and everything.”


“The difference is in the inflection of their voices,” said senior offensive tackle Chima Okoli.

“McGloin joshes around a little bit – this is during practice, you know what I mean? He makes sure everyone is on (what he’s doing). That comes with experience.

“Rob comes out (of the huddle), there’s nothing really extra, it’s straight to business,” said Okoli, who at 6-foot-4 and 301 pounds occupies a big chunk of that huddle. “Rob has his own way, so it’s not like there’s a glaring difference.”

At Penn State, all quarterbacks are supposed to enter the huddle the same way. But, says Okoli, “they each have their own little things.”

“With McGloin, it’s like, ‘Eyes up here, everybody; pay attention!’

“And with Rob, it’s like, ‘Let’s go.’

“And it makes a world of difference. Oh yeah,” said Okoli. “Each little thing separates you and makes you special.”


“Rob throws the ball a little differently,” said guard DeOn’tae Pannell. “He has a tighter spiral. McGloin’s like, ‘Let’s get back there and get rid of the ball.’ ”


“McGloin’s good at joshing around,” said Okoli, “joking with the guys and stuff.”

Oh, I get it:

With Henny McYoungman, it's like, "Take my quarterback…please."

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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