McGloin is your starter

This is my column that will run in Saturday’s paper, but I figured I’d post it here:

Put Bill O’Brien’s first major decision as Penn State’s head coach in the win column.

Prior to Friday’s Coaches vs. Cancer golf tournament in State College, O’Brien told reporters that he informed the team that senior Matt McGloin will be the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback when they host Ohio on Sept. 1.

While McGloin isn’t the most talented QB on Penn State’s roster — that’s sophomore Paul Jones and it’s not even close — he certainly gives the Lions the best chance to win games.

Rob Bolden, who is surprisingly still with team after rumors of an inevitable transfer, has struggled so much the past two seasons that there was no way he’d be under center. And while Jones showed glimpses over the past three springs — he enrolled at PSU for the spring semester in 2010 — he struggled in the classroom too much to count on him on the field at this point.

That’s not to say Jones won’t start at some point this season. By hitting the books hard in the spring and summer, Jones will be able to give the coaches confidence that should he be needed, whether because of an injury to or ineffectiveness by McGloin, he can be trusted.

Naming McGloin the starter now, more than a month before preseason practice starts, was the right call by O’Brien.

“When you go into training camp you got to make sure that one guy is getting the bulk of the reps,” O’Brien said. “You don’t have time to give three guys equal reps.”

The past two preseason practices were dominated by a quarterback battle, won each time by Bolden, that the offense struggled early on because of it. When you’re splitting first-team reps between multiple quarterback candidates the offense builds no chemistry. One player is soft spoken (Bolden) while the other has no problem speaking his mind (McGloin).

While there are many players to replace on both sides of the ball, the hit on defense is so severe that Penn State is going to have to score points to win games early on.

There is a ton of talent on defense, led by tackle Jordan Hill and linebacker Gerald Hodges, but losing All-American tackle Devon Still, both starting ends and the entire secondary will put a ton of pressure on coordinator Ted Roof and his assistants to turn inexperienced talent into results.

The offense has its share of holes to fill after the graduation of four offensive linemen, leading receiver Derek Moye and versatile fullback Joe Suhey. With the return of standout tailback Silas Redd, reliable receiver Justin Brown and injury-bitten tight end Garry Gilliam along with promising talents like receiver Allen Robinson, running back/receiver Bill Belton and true freshman tight end Jesse James, McGloin will have the weapons to put points on the board.

Don’t forget about kicker Anthony Fera, who gives O’Brien a good option if the offense can’t always get in the end zone.

It also shows that O’Brien can make a pressure-filled decision and do it the right way.

While competition at every position is a great thing, having a position as important quarterback settled before camp is important. Now O’Brien and his coaching staff can work on making the Nittany Lions’ offense better instead of answering constant questions on who would be under center.

In the end football is all about results and O’Brien knew McGloin gives Penn State the best chance to win to start the season. It’s really as simple as that, so there was no need to string it out and O’Brien didn’t.



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