First off, let me say I like Adam Rittenberg. I've exchanged emails with him a few times and he seems like a good guy. He has a tough job in that he has to know all eleven Big Ten teams, and he has to know them well enough to put up multiple blog posts per day. So it's understandable that some story lines are going to have to be recycled. But good God, man, am I going to have to listen to a broken record all the way until August?
Here is what he wrote on Monday.
The Blue-White Game set off alarm bells for many folks, as quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin struggled behind a shuffled offensive line.
Fair enough. Here's what he wrote on Tuesday.
It's unrealistic to expect a Penn State team with an inexperienced quarterback to win in Tuscaloosa against the defending national champs.
Hmmm...okay. Here's what he wrote yesterday in quoting Stewart Mandel.
But one can't help but think that his father [Joe Paterno] would sooner stitch dragon flames on the Nittany Lions' jerseys than start a true freshman on the road at Alabama on Sept. 11.
I'm sensing a theme here. He followed up that post later in the day with this mailbag response.
I'm not sure McGloin can be that guy and still avoid costly interceptions. He certainly made some questionable throws in the spring game, although that's only one scrimmage. Honestly, I don't think any of us can cast our votes right now. We need to see more from McGloin, Newsome, Jones and maybe even Robert Bolden in fall camp.
But why stop there? Let's go for the hat trick!
1. Quarterback questions: Newsome and McGloin didn't do much to ease the anxiety of Penn State fans in the spring game. McGloin had two interceptions and nearly had a third, and Newsome completed only 5 of 12 pass attempts. There's a long way to go before the season, but Penn State needs to see more progress from these two or the prospect of starting a true freshman quarterback will become a likelihood.
Wait...he wouldn't...four times in one day?
He's not done yet folks. He's just warming up. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, let's go for five.
4. Penn State unsettled at quarterback: Jay Paterno doesn't sound too worried, but Penn State's quarterbacks didn't make a great first (public) impression in the Blue-White Game, as Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin both struggled. Early enrollee Paul Jones played well and might have worked his way into the mix; that is, if Joe Paterno could stomach playing a true freshman under center. There's no clear leader in what should be a very intriguing race.
Okay, I think he's done now. No? Okay one more.
Paul Jones might challenge Joe Paterno's stance on true freshmen after his performance in the Blue-White Game. While sophomore quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin struggled, Jones, an early enrollee, connected for two touchdown passes.
Again, I like Adam Rittenberg, but this is the stuff ESPN does that drives people crazy. They take a story line, set up all kinds of preconceived notions, and beat it to death. The next thing you know people are comparing Newsome and McGloin to Michigan's horrid quarterback situation in 2008.
This isn't the first time Rittenberg has done this. Last year in the early spring he was telling us daily that Penn State's defensive line was going to struggle with Maurice Evans and Aaron Maybin gone. That was until your humble blogger sent him a kindly worded email telling him he was barking up the wrong tree. Every Penn State fan knew the defensive line was going to be fine with Odrick, Ogbu, and Crawford being coached by Larry Johnson, the best defensive line coach in the game today. I suggested at the time he should focus more on the secondary and offensive line. Looking back on the 2009 season I'll let you judge who was more correct.
I agree that Penn State's quarterback situation is unsettled, but I don't think it's anywhere near the apocalyptic proportion everyone is making it out to be based on one spring scrimmage. Maize-n-Brew's comparison to Threet and Sheridan is laughable. IIRC, Michigan had only two or three scholarship offensive linemen going into that season. I think they had one starter returning on the entire offense. They had no feature running back until Brandon Minor emerged halfway through the season. Their defense was terrible and gave them no support. And everyone was learning a new system Rich Rodriguez practially invented. You would have thought a tidal wave was about to take over the conference if you listen to the pundits.
Now compare that to Penn State this year. Evan Royster might be the best all around running back in the league. His backup, Stephfon Green, has been around several years and knows the system if Royster gets hurt. All of the wide receivers that helped Daryll Clark become the first PSU quarterback to eclipse 3,000 yards in a season return. There is some shuffling on the offensive line going on, but Wisniewski, Eliades, Pannell and Troutman all have a ton of experience, and there are three or four other quality guys fighting for the last spot. There is a ton of depth on the offensive line for the coaches to work with there.
The defense looks just as nasty. Everyone returns in the secondary except for the underachieving A.J. Wallace. There are three or four guys jockeying for that spot as well as challenging the established starters. The linebackers are looking fine, and the defensive line only has to replace Jared Odrick, which Devon Still is doing a fine job of.
Rittenberg is so concerned about the quarterback position he didn't even rank Penn State in the top three in his post spring power ranking post. I don't think this Penn State team has a chance to win the National Championship or anything, but if the quarterback position is the only position people can point to as a thing of concern, I think they'll be alright.