Anthony Morelli returns as his second year as a starter. He will hope to capitalize on a solid performance in the Outback Bowl where he completed 14-of-25 for 197 yards and 1 touchdown. But questions about his decision making and leadership still plague him in the media.
Reports out of practice leading up the bowl game suggested he had turned a corner and showed more confidence. These glowing reports carried on through the spring and entire offseason. The game is slowing down for him. The coaches are trusting him with more of the playbook. His wide receivers now have three full seasons under their belts. Everyone close to the program seems to believe Morelli is poised for a breakout senior year similar to what Penn State experienced with Todd Blackledge, Michael Robinson and Kerry Collins. But I'm still holding back judgement until I see a few more games.
The play of Anthony Morelli is critical to how far this team will go. Last year he tended to rely on his arm too much. He stared down his receivers and made some questionable decisions. He seemed too jacked up at times overthrowing wide open receivers on deep throws while bouncing balls off of their chests on short throws. He needs to play smart. The coaches have to open up the playbook and give him the tools to win. And he has to show the type of leadership that can will the team down the field in the fourth quarter.
The battle to be Morelli's backup has been raging all through the offseason. Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin are close, but all indications are Clark has just barely won the job. He's seen decent action having played in seven games last year. Pat Devlin reportedly made good progress in learning the playbook and understanding defenses on film during the offseason. Either one of these would make a fine backup quarterback.
This is a good group of quarterbacks. Anthony Morelli should have a great year if the history of senior Penn State quarterbacks holds up. I believe the Outback Bowl was a sign of things to come. He showed remarkable poise and confidence. Beating a ranked team carried over in his attitude for the offseason workouts. This team didn't believe in him last year. Now they do as evidenced by their voting him a team captain. The backups are solid and I feel a lot better about our situation if Morelli gets injured than I would have last year at this time.
Preseason Grade: B+
|Starter||Anthony Morelli||Senior||208-of-386 (53.9%), 2424 yds, 11 TD, 8 INT|
|#2||Daryll Clark||Junior||14-of-27 (51.6%), 116 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT|
|#3||Pat Devlin||Redshirt Freshman||DNP in 2006|
|#4||Paul Cianciolo||Junior||4-of-8 (50%), 59 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT|