Penn State QB race is on
STATE COLLEGE - Phase I of Penn State's Quarterback Race of 2010 came to an end on Saturday with the Nittany Lions' annual spring practice-closing Blue-White game.
The intrasquad scrimmage attracted 55,000 faithful followers who braved an afternoon that became increasingly overcast, drizzly and brisk as it progressed, but came no closer to resolving who will be behind center when Penn State takes to the field September 4 against Youngstown State.
That's fine with coach Joe Paterno, who indicated in the pre-game media gathering that the Lions would take their time in choosing a successor to Daryll Clark, who held the signalcaller position the past two seasons, including leading the Lions to a victory over LSU in the Capital One Bowl in January.
The leading candidates, holdovers Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin, have had very few snaps in game action between them, and that lack of experience showed at times in the Blue's 17-3 victory over the White.
The quarterbacks' timing with the receiving corps is still a work in progress, as there were overthrown passes, dropped balls, and some tipped attempts by the defense.
With the untested field generals, it was no surprise the defense is ahead of the offense at this point, even with the linebacking corps of Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman and Josh Hull and tackle Jared Odrick all taken in the NFL Draft.
The Lions didn't have their complete offensive package available for this occasion, since the idea was to get a look at a lot of people. The PSU attack bore little resemblence to the HD Spread offense in use with Clark running the show.
Both Newsome and McGloin took turns directing the Blue team, but neither got the Lions in the end zone.
In that regard, true freshman Paul Jones, the highly-touted QB prospect from McKees Rocks, Pa., had the most successful performance.red-shirt
Jones lofted a pair of 18 yard TD passes on fade routes to Shawney Kersey and finished 5-for-8 for 67 yards.
McGloin, a former preferred walk-on from West Scranton High School, was 10 of 23 for 110 yards, with two touchdowns and a long completion of 23 yards to running back Curtis Dukes. He was also intercepted twice.
"A couple passes got me in trouble today but it's nothing I can't fix," said McGloin. "I've just got to regroup, get in the film room, and get better.
"I'd say we were a little uncomfortable from the beginning. We have some new quarterbacks in the offense. I think we are settling in now. It's only the spring. We have a long way to go. We still have the summer."
Newsome, who is supposed to have the running skills to go with his arm, was kept primarily in the pocket and was 5 of 12 for 50 yards, with no interceptions. His longest completion was 17 yards to converted tight end Garry Gilliam.
"I'm looking forward to getting better," said Newsome. "I just need to keep progressing, watching film and doing work with my teammates. I've got a great group of teammates. All the guys on the team want to get better and want to be prepared for the upcoming season. We have a tough schedule, so we want to be prepared."
Both McGloin and Newsome played in last year's Blue-White game and had some success throwing the ball, but they also were under little pressure to perform, as Clark was already the undisputed starter. Jones was in a similar siutation for Saturday's contest, which might help account for his productive effort.
The stakes have been raised, and while fans might want Jones to be in the mix based on his Blue-White performance, the Lions will have to sort out the audition process. A trip to defending national champion Alabama in week two looms as an potentially unforgiving stage, however.
NITTANY NOTES - Sophomore wideout Justin Brown made a game-high four receptions for 35 yards ... Evan Royster didn't play and Stephfon Green saw limited play. Redshirt sophomore Hykeem Brodie was the leading rusher with 34 yards on seven carries ... Brodie transferred to Penn State from Old Dominion ... True freshman Silas Redd gained 16 yards on four carries ... Linebacker Nate Stupar made a game-high six solo tackles (seven overall), grabbed an interception for the White team. Sophomore linebacker Mike Yancich tied for game-high honors with seven tackles for the Blue ... Sophomore defensive tackle James Terry made five solo tackles for the Blue, sophomore linebacker James Van Fleet made four stops and grabbed an interception and sophomore defensive end Cody Castor made two hits and had an interception to set-up the game's first TD ... wideout Chaz Powell, a former high school safety, hs been working at cornerback ... the offensive line is undergoing some shuffling; Stefan Wisniewski was moved back to guard after spending last year at center ... Jim O'Hora Award winner (for most improved defensive player) LB Bani Gbadyu had the hit of the game ... other spring award winners were tackle Quinn Barham and wide receiver Brett Brackett, co-recipients of the Red Worrell Award as most improved offensive players, and linebacker Chris Colasanti and tight end Andrew Szczerba, who were co-recipients of the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Memorial Award.