Penn State Football: Starter McGloin Calls Old Quarterback Rotation `A Killer’
Matt McGloin doesn’t mumble.
He doesn’t mince his words.
Like when it comes to coach Bill O’Brien’s announcement Friday that McGloin is Penn State’s starting quarterback.
“I think coach O’Brien did a great thing by announcing it early,” McGloin said. “It lets me try to get control of the offense going into the season.”
There’s no doubt that McGloin is a cocksure quarterback, even though he arrived at Penn State from Scranton in 2008 as a preferred walk-on after attracting scholarship offers from only two Division I-AA schools – Colgate and Lehigh.
Now a fifth-year senior, McGloin will enter this fall firmly entrenched as the Nittany Lions’ No. 1 quarterback for the first time in his career.
He has made 10 starts the past two seasons, going 5-5, but all of the starts came in the second half of the 2010 and ’11 seasons when Rob Bolden bounced passes off the turf and struggled to move the offense.
Bolden, who led the team to an 11-5 record in his 16 inconsistent starts, is out of McGloin’s way now.
The inconsistent junior has slipped behind Paul Jones to No. 3 on the depth chart and not many would be surprised if Bolden were gone by the time McGloin takes his first snap Aug. 6 when preseason practice kicks off.
McGloin makes no secret of the fact that he and former quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno had their differences.
These days, McGloin can only shake his head when addressing the unpopular quarterback rotation he and Bolden were forced to endure the past two years.
“It’s a killer to a team, in my opinion,” McGloin said. “You have to have a clear-cut starter. The team has to believe in the quarterback. That wasn’t the case the last two years.
“If the (coaches) had put their trust into one guy, we might have been more successful.”
The Nittany Lions were 16-10 with two bowl losses the past two seasons. On top of that, McGloin and Bolden were 0-8 against Top 25 teams, losing four each in games they started.
McGloin has thrown 22 career touchdown passes against 14 interceptions, while Bolden has seven TD tosses and 14 picks.
McGloin separated himself from Jones and Bolden this spring.
"His completion percentage, getting us in and out of the right plays, knowledge of the offense, being prepared in meetings, cutting down on his interceptions as spring ball went on,” O’Brien said, citing reasons for why McGloin was his top choice.
“He completed about 65 to 70 percent of his passes during the spring. He ran some of our situational stuff pretty well. He just did a very good job of being consistent."
McGloin hopes to build on his performance this spring and become the unquestioned leader of the Penn State offense by the Sept. 1 nonconference home opener against Ohio University.
“Now that everybody knows I’m the starting quarterback, I can try to earn the respect of the rest of the team, earn their trust and go from there,” he said. “I can finally get my mind off of it and not worry about somebody nipping at my heels or whether I’m going to get this rep or that rep.
“I can focus on mechanics, watching film, working with the guys who are most important to me (on offense), work on becoming a leader. If I’m going to start Saturday, I can be at ease with my mind and just focus on preparing for the games and not worry about if I don’t play or practice well Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I understand that at any point the starter can lose the job. Now I have to work harder than ever to keep the starting job. But, at the same time, being the starter, I think it’s a great thing.”
McGloin, who completed just 54.3 percent of his career passes, knows all eyes will be on him. He has been a lightning rod for Penn State’s failures in the past, especially after tossing a school-record five interceptions in the Outback Bowl loss to Florida two years ago.
And there were many who questioned his toughness last season after McGloin suffered a concussion and seizure in a brief locker room scuffle with former teammate Curtis Drake, and missed the TicketCity Bowl.
Four days after the bowl loss to Houston, O’Brien was named Penn State’s new coach. Not only did the offense experience an extreme makeover, so did McGloin’s career.
“What I realize is that in this offense, it’s my job just to manage the game and move the chains and that’s something I’ve been focusing on,” McGloin said. “I think that’s the reason why I got the starting job.”
McGloin also has forged a strong relationship with Jones.
“Paul’s a great talent,” McGloin said. ”He had a really, really good spring. He was consistent with the football and he really got into the playbook.
“Even though I’m the starter, I’m going to help Paul as much as I can just in case we need him to get in there and make some plays.”
McGloin would be the first to tell you, though, that’s only after he makes plenty of big plays himself.