Penn State Football: Look at Kevin Newsome... Differently
This is the Kevin Newsome you don't see:
One Penn State student out of 268 stood out and stood up in the spring semester's Section 02 of Sociology 005, "Social Problems," which met for the last time this past week.
The Gen Ed class -- comprised of students across all years and all majors -- gathered at 11:15 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in 121 Sparks building, located along the grassy Mall, just steps from Pattee-Paterno Library.
That student sat in the front row of Dr. Mike Massoglia's class.
That student was the first to answer questions, the first to offer his opinion, the first to wear golden-colored shoes (as dictated by his fraternity) and the only one to toss – as directed – the professor's submarine sandwich from the front of the classroom to the back.
That student was only a freshman. But he led that room full of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. In a good way. In learning. And having fun while doing it.
That student is Kevin Newsome.
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This is the Kevin Newsome you watched but didn't see:
The Penn State backup quarterback in 2009 played nine drives where he passed or ran the ball, albeit all in the second half.
With this quarterback at the helm on those drives, Penn State made 80 percent of its third down conversions. Nearly one third of his plays resulted in a first down.
This quarterback did fumble three times in 52 plays, but lost only one, in his second game as a Nittany Lion. That game was the only one in which he was sacked, twice.
Only one-third of this quarterback's drives ended in a punt, turnover or failed fourth-down conversion. The rest resulted in a score or the clock simply ran out.
Six of this quarterback's nine drives lasted at least six plays; two went for eight plays and one was 11 plays long. Two drives resulted in touchdowns and two more were sure point-producers, ending at the 5- and 10-yard lines as time ran out. Three of his drives went for 50 or more yards (50, 53 and 62).
This quarterback threw 11 times and had eight completions – a 72.7 completion percentage – with zero interceptions, for 66 yards. He had long throws of 13 and 14 yards. His passing rating last season was higher than the career passing efficiency ratings of Michael Robinson, Kevin Thompson, Galen Hall, Tony Sacca and Todd Blackledge.
This quarterback ran 20 times for 95 yards, fifth on the team, for a 4.5-yard rushing average. He had runs of 9, 9, 11, 14 and 15 yards.
Every snap this quarterback took Penn State gained an average of 5.4 yards.
This quarterback is Kevin Newsome.
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This is the Kevin Newsome you saw a week ago in the Blue-White Game:
That quarterback played behind an offensive line with a starting center playing guard; a senior starting at center for the first time; a starting guard playing tackle; a starting tackle playing guard; and a redshirt junior tackle starting for the first time.
That quarterback may have to run a lot in 2010, at least early. For survival.
In the Blue-White Game, circumstances called for some scrambling. That quarterback, who showed he can scramble in 2009, stayed home. He showed discipline in the face of both challenge and opportunity. He took three sacks, but they were soft touches. And that quarterback most assuredly could have faked his way out of two them.
That quarterback completed 5 of 12 passes for 50 yards, with a long of 17 yards. He had four three-and-outs. But that quarterback had a limited playbook and was playing mostly a stunting, veteran defense in a very controlled scrimmage.
That quarterback did better in real games.
Remember, too: That quarterback didn't throw two touchdown passes against the third-string defense. And he didn't throw two interceptions, one that should have been a pick-six.
That quarterback is Kevin Newsome.
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This is the quarterback that Joe Paterno and Jay Paterno saw this spring:
Joe: "I think Kevin's presence has improved so much....He's much more aware of some things. I think he's got a little more poise in the huddle, things of that sort, and I think he's more accurate throwing the football. We always knew he could run. He's a big, strong kid. He'd be a heckuva tailback. But he's gotten a lot better feel for what's going on and a little bit more sense about things, a little better in the huddle."
Jay: "When Kevin came in last year, he really had no basis and exposure to reading coverages. He's got that part down. Now he's transitioning to dropping back, hitting his fifth step, knowing the blitz is coming from here, and 'I have to throw this slant on the backside. And now I have to smoothly throw the ball.' He's gotten a lot better at that.'"
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Now, tell me, can you see Kevin Newsome as Penn State's starting quarterback on Sept. 4?