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Penn State Football: It's Early But McSorley Still Leads In Quarterback Race

by on March 31, 2016 2:00 PM

Seven practices aren't enough to decide who is going to be the starting punter let alone the starting quarterback. But as the Nittany Lions approach the midway point in spring practice, it's still sophomore gunslinger Trace McSorley leading the way in the hunt to replace Christian Hackenberg according to coach James Franklin.

“The experience, reps, the fact that he’s been the No. 2 for a full year,” Franklin said of McSorley. “You tell guys all the time, you’ve got to prepare like you’re the starter. But when you’re redshirting and you’re the No. 2 quarterback and could go in at any point, you prepare differently.”

In truth the race is hardly separated by much. Tommy Stevens is still splitting so-called "first team" reps with McSorley in practice so it's not as though the Nittany Lions are closing in on finding their starting man. With nine more practices and the all important Blue White game still on the schedule there is plenty of time to sort things out.

Then again, with an entire summer and training camp session still to go, there's no guarantee that April's annual scrimmage will prove to be the final exam for either quarterback. With plenty of time to work, there's no reason to rush the decision.

“It doesn’t really matter who’s ahead right now in practice number seven of spring ball,” Franklin said. “It really matters where they are maybe halfway through (fall) camp, if it takes that long to decide.”

In many respects it might be the summer when football isn't being played that helps decide the race. With new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead installing a new look system, it'll be which quarterback can grasp the concepts between the ears the fastest, especially in a read option attack, that could separate Stevens and McSorley.

But assuming that both players won't be perplexed by a system touted as player friendly, finding a new starting quarterback will come down to coaching as much as anything else.

“It puts a little bit more on the coach,” Franklin said. “It takes a little pressure off the offense, and they’re handling it really well ... It’s been really beneficial so far.”

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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