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Penn State Football: Which QB Has Joe's Backing?

by on August 31, 2010 5:32 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Joe Paterno was back in front of the media on Tuesday, almost exactly four days before the Nittany Lion football team's 2010 season opener against Youngstown State at Beaver Stadium.

We'll try not to back into the news, since what you really want to know is still on the back burner: Who will be back there behind center Doug Klopacz?

Paterno tried to make up his mind last week, thinking about choosing a starter among redshirt sophomore Kevin McGloin, sophomore Kevin Newsome and true freshman Robert Bolden.

But then he backed off.

"I'd like to make a decision, so they can feel comfortable and one of them will feel confident," said Paterno, later adding: " ... Hopefully, maybe, we'll do it tomorrow (Wednesday) night."

"Every one of the kids out there" –- he included freshman Paul Jones, a probable redshirt due, in part at least, to grades –- "has some potential. But none of them has any experience, so I am not sure what is going to happen when we put them in there."

Paterno did say that he could go back-and-forth with the quarterbacks on Saturday, and that he expected at least two of them to play, if not three. "We'll have to see what happens," he said. "We'll have to play it by ear."

If you look back at the stats from the 2009 season, Newsome completed 8 of 11 passes for 66 yards, and ran 20 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. McGloin was 0 for 2 passing. Back in the spring at the Blue-White Game, Newsome completed 5 of 12 passes for 50 yards, and ran four times for 16 yards. McGloin was 10 of 23, with two interceptions, for 110 yards. Jones threw a pair of 18-yard touchdowns.

All of that was back before Bolden came to campus, as he spent the spring cooling his heels awaiting graduation from Orchard Lake St. Mary's in Michigan.

Now, with classes a week-and-a-half old and the season green-banana young, we're back at square one (albeit it's a more crowded spot). For at least, as of Tuesday, another 24 hours.

Joe's back is against the wall.

BACK WHERE POWELL STARTED

Chaz Powell is back on offense. "I thought you knew that," said Paterno, commenting on the move that happened a week ago.

Powell, who caught 28 passes (third on the team) for 366 yards and ran nine times for 76 yards (an 8.4-yard average) in 2009, has moved back to the offense after spending the offseason in the Nittany Lions' secondary. Did OK, too. Up until the switch, he was running with the first team.

Now, he's a premium player on offense as insurance to cover injuries to tailback Stephfon Green and receiver Christian Kuntz, as well as a broken leg suffered by receiver Curtis Drake and a redshirt taken running back Brandon Beachum.

Powell is versatile, quick and adaptable, necessary given the Lions' injury problems as well as the situation at tight end.

Andrew Szczerba, the projected starter, won't be playing tight end any time soon. "His back is not good," said Paterno. "He hasn't practiced at all." That leaves at tight end former defensive lineman Garry Gilliam, a redshirt freshman who has no game experience but did catch two passes for 23 yards in the spring game.

To compensate for a lack of an offensive threat at that spot, look for Powell to appear all over the field, as both a receiver and a runner. He's also listed No. 1 on the depth chart on special teams, back returning kickoffs.

"As an offensive player," said Paterno, "Powell does a lot of different things."

DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD

With the switch of Powell, who was listed as a starting cornerback, Stephon Morris -- a nickel back last year as a freshman -- is back in the lineup. "Yeah, yeah, along with (D'Anton) Lynn at ccornerback," Paterno said.

PATS ON THE BACK

Wide receiver Brett Brackett, a fifth-year senior from New Jersey, and senior defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu officially received the backing of their teammates this week.

In a team vote, the Nittany Lion players voted Brackett and Ogbu as Penn State's captains for 2010.

Brackett, who came to Penn State as a quarterback, caught only three passes last season and 17 in his Penn State career. Don't expect him on that field that much, especially with the return of Powell. He says he'll be playing the slot position manned by Andrew Quarless back in 2009, but you may see him mostly holding the ball for place-kicker Collin Wagner.

Brackett is a qualified team leader. He is the president of Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which produces the Lift For Life event -- a huge success that has raised more than $400,000. Ogbu has started 26 games over three seasons, including all 13 last season, and has appeared in every single game of the past three seasons.

LINEBACKER U IS NEW

Paterno said he was happy with the linebackers, despite not having a starter back.

"We have some depth there," Paterno said. "At least five, maybe six guys who are good athletes and could be good linebackers."

Anticipated starters are redshirt junior Nate Stupar, senior Bani Gbadyu and senior Chris Colasanti, with Michael Mauti -- back after a season-ending knee injury last August -- pushing for some serious playing time.

BIGGER IN THE BACKFIELD

Reporters were a bit taken aback about Paterno's comments concerning tailback Evan Royster, who is 441 yards from Curt Warner's all-time Penn State rushing record.

Paterno, who in the spring downplayed Royster's quest for the record after the running back eschewed the NFL Draft, didn't seem very enthused about commenting positively about the senior.

Paterno would like to see Royster's weight back to where it was in 2009, when he was listed at 209 pounds.

"He's a little heavy at 220" pounds, said Paterno, adding that he told Royster the extra weight would impact his endurance. Royster was listed at 228 pounds in the official Penn State roster released yesterday.

JOE BACK ON THE SIDELINES

Paterno, who has spent parts of a couple recent seasons in the press box after injuries and the like, says he will be on the sidelines for the season opener. The 83-year-old coach, who is entering his 61st season at Penn State and 45th as head coach, battled health issues in the offseason and missed several alumni functions, as well as a Big Ten Conference meeting.

"I haven't missed one play in practice" this summer, Paterno said, "and I don't plan to miss one in the season either."

So, Joe's back. Now all he needs is a starting quarterback.



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